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Cynicism in Charlotte Temple Essay


In my reading of Charlotte Temple, time and time again I felt as though Charlotte was not entirely to blame for her constant misfortunes. The circumstances under which she was raised and the constant contradiction she faces in her youth are at least somewhat responsible.

The anecdote about her father and mother and how they met is a fine example. Mr. Temple left the woman he was with for Lucy, which by all accounts seemed to end up working out nicely. This is a story of general impropriety for the sake of love, or as Rowson calls ita conflict of love and duty.

We can see from this story that Charlotte has not had the greatest examples set for her as a child, and when she is presented with a situation to make a decision between the same two factors, it can almost be expected that she would make the decision to elope with Montraville; and of course, she did.

The problem here, is that the story obviously deviates from Mr. and Mrs. Temples course because she clearly does not live happily ever after. She is continually jilted by Montraville and ends up bearing an illegitimate baby, and dying in the process. Her last days are filled with poverty and anguish, as Montraville is more or less allowed to just leave and pursue his updated interests in life and love.

There is a very cynical theme to Charlotte Temple. We can see it the way Charlotte so badly wants to elope (a la the romantic stories shes heard over her life, including her own parents) and does against her better judgment, only to find out her better judgment was, in fact, better.

We can see a cynical theme in the way Montraville presents himself, with such emphasis placed on his fathers advice about youthful marriage and bringing a wife into an uncertain life. He seems to hold his fathers words in such high regard, but then knowingly does the exact opposite, without any second thought about Charlotte or his child.

And we can see it again in the way Mademoiselle tricks Charlotte over and over again so that she might have a partner in eloping, only to ditch her eventually anyway. She is bribed to bring Charlotte around, she convinces Charlotte to read the letter, and then to respond to it, and even as poor Charlotte is making a last stand to avoid leaving, Mademoiselle uses he authority as a teacher and mentor to convince her to leave for good.

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