The roadside inn at Danvers where Eliza Wharton goes to give birth to her baby symbolizes the oppression of women in Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette. Danvers, a town located in northern Massachusetts, was originally known as Salem Village, the historic site of the notorious witch trials of 1692, where 14 women were hanged as witches. The 1692 hangings in Salem have long since been understood as a form of persecution against women perceived to be different or threatening, and the fact that Eliza ends up in this very place over a hundred years later, herself the victim of oppression and misunderstanding because of her perceived differences as a woman, is certainly ironic.
Eliza runs off to the inn at Danvers from her home in Hartford, Connecticut, after an affair with Major Sanford, a known rake, results in her pregnancy. She has no reason to believe that her friends, family, or broader society will ever accept her again, since she has strayed so far from the realm of acceptable womanly behavior, so she runs to Danvers, where she dies not long after the death of her child. Eliza runs to Danvers because the sexist nature of post-Revolutionary America’s patriarchal society has forced her out of respectable life. She refuses to conform to the narrow ideals of acceptable womanhood, and she is summarily scorned and sidelined. Eliza’s death at the inn at Danvers is a fitting end to her plight and is in keeping with the trials of the women in Salem Village in 1692.