The general reason I think Charlotte Temple stayed on the best seller list for so many years is because the subjects that were discussed in the book were taboo in that day and time. Montraville was a soldier in the army who was about twenty three years old, and Charlotte was only fifteen. He was much older than Charlotte. Montraville influenced her in evil ways; he impressed her with his knowledge of love and the world by writing her a letter and giving it to her personally.
Montraville knew this was forbidden but gave it to her anyway. Tis a romantic attempt, said he, and should I even succeed in seeing and conversing with her, it can be productive of no good: I must of necessity leave England in a few days and probably may never return; why then should I endeavor to engage the affections of this lovely girl, to leave her prey to a thousand inquietudes, of which at present she has no idea?
I will return to Portsmouth and think no more about her ( Rowson 11 ). Montraville went against his judgment. He knew that her parents would be angry if they knew that their daughter was having a relationship with a man! He was supposed to be a responsible soldier: an honorable man that would not do this kind of thing! But he would continue to see her. He even paid her guardian so she would keep bringing her to see him.
He soon pund means to ingratiate himself with her companion, who was a French teacher at the school, and, at parting, slipped a letter he had written into Charlotte s hand, and five guineas into that of Mademoiselle, who promised she would endeavor to bring her young charge into the field again the next evening (Rowson 11). Montraville was influenced himself by Belcore who was evil. When Montraville and Charlotte would meet, he would bring Belcore along to entertain Charlotte s guardian, La Rue.
The had wisely brought Belcore with him to entertain Mademoiselle while he could have an uninterrupted conversation with Charlotte. … Belcore… possessed a genteel fortune and had a liberal education; Dissipated, thoughtless, and capricious, he paid little regard to the moral duties, and less to religious ones: eager in the pursuit of pleasure, he minded not the miseries he inflicted on others, provided his own wishes, however extravagant, were gratified. Self, darling self, was the idol he worshipped, and that he would have sacrificed the interest and happiness of all mankind.
Montraville … generous in his disposition, liberal in his opinions, and good-natured almost to a fault; yet eager and impetuous in the pursuit of a favorite object, he staid not to reflect on the consequences which might fallow the attainment of his wishes; with a mind ever open to conviction, had been fortunate as to possess a friend who would have pointed out the cruelty of endeavoring to gain the heart of a innocent artless girl, when he knew it was utterly impossible for him to marry her,… Belcore was not this friend; he rather encouraged the growing passion of Montraville;… (Rowson37-38).
La Rue, posing as a friend, was the cause of Charlotte s destruction. La Rue, like Belcore, was only looking out for herself. She did not care if Charlotte was going to be hurt from this relationship; she did not care if it was dangerous for Charlotte. If La Rue had been responsible she would have never allowed Charlotte to talk to this man in the first place. Therefore they would have never had a relationship. La Rue had beauty, but no goodness in her heart. The lovely maid whose form and face Nature has deck d with ev ry grace,
But in whose breast no virtues glow, Whose hand ne er felt another s woe, Whose hand ne er smooth d the bed of pain, Or eas d the captive s galling chain; But like the tulip caught the eye, born just to be admir d and die; When gone, no one regrets its loss, or scarce remembers that it was (Rowson 23). There were continued instances of behavior that were unacceptable in that time. Montraville persuaded and tricked Charlotte into leaving her home and going with him when his father had warned him not to use a girl like this.
There is one thing I think it my duty to caution you against; the precipitancy with which young men frequently rush into matrimonial engagements, and by their thoughtlessness draw many a deserving women into scenes of poverty and distress. a soldier has no business to think of a wife till his rank is such as to place him above the fear of bringing into the world a train of helpless innocents, heirs only to penury and affliction.
But mark me boy, if on the contrary, you rush into a precipitate union with a girl of little or no fortune, take the poor creature from a comfortable home and kind friends, and plunge her into all the evils a narrow income and increasing family conflict, I will leave you to enjoy the blessed fruits of your rashness; for by all that is sacred, neither my interest or fortune shall ever be exerted in your favor. I am serious, therefore imprint this conversations on your memory, and let it influence your future conduct ( Rowson 40).
After the warning from his father, Montraville still kept seeing Charlotte. Montraville eluded Charlotte, and took her on a boat bound for New York. On that boat Montraville had sex with Charlotte Temple. She became pregnant out of wedlock. Society frowned on pregnancy in unmarried women much more than today. …Why, Mistress, charity begins at home, and I have seven children at home, honest, lawful children, and it is my duty to keep them; and do you think I will give away my property to a nasty impudent hussy, to maintain her bastard…(Rowson 103 ) Charlotte knew what she had done was wrong.
She trusted Montraville, but he spoke of empty promises of marriage when they arrived in New York. She withdrew herself only after realizing that the world was a horrible, wretched place where evil prevailed over the good in people. She now saw that not every man was good, kind, and loving like her father. The inexperienced Charlotte was astonished at what she had heard. She thought La Rue had, like herself, only been urged by the force of her attachment to Belcore, to quit her friends, and follow him to the feat of war: how wonderful then, that she should resolve to marry another man.
It was certainly extremely wrong. It was indelicate. She mentioned her thoughts to Montraville. he laughed at her simplicity, called her a little ideot, and patting her on the cheek, said she knew nothing of the world. If the world sanctifies such things, tis a very bad world I think, said Charlotte. Why I always understood they were to be married when they arrived in New-York. I am sure Mademoiselle told me Belcore promised to marry her.