lauren e. davis St. Lawrence University Entangling Alliances The Coquette and Allegories of Independence in Transatlantic Context Early in Hannah Webster Foster's 1797 novel The Coquette, the heroine, Eliza Wharton, writes to her friend Lucy Freeman that she wishes "for no other connection than that of friendship" (6). Eliza's fiancé has just died, and she here declares that instead of immediately seeking a different partner, she will for the time being remain single. Though her circumstances are quite different from Eliza's, Louisa Mortimer of the 1781 Irish novel The Triumph of Prudence over Passion sounds remarkably similar when she comments that marriage is not "a state capable of making [her] happier than [she is]" (Authoress 1: 117). By refusing to marry, Eliza and Louisa mark themselves as anomalous in a world where marriage was expected for women and often necessary for both their social reputations and their financial security. More importantly, these characters' declarations of intent to remain single also mark them as independent, a trait particularly significant in nations that had recently, in the United States' case, become independent from Britain or, in the case of Ireland, begun the process of seeking some form of independence. By
Early American Literature – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jun 21, 2015
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