Hannah Webster Foster’s “The Coquette” is an American classic. This short epistolary novel
tells the story of Eliza Wharton from the point of view of several of her contemporaries as
expressed in their letters to each other. After reading and reflecting upon Foster’s “The
Coquette” in our textbook Becoming America, please answer the following question in at least
250 words and post to the appropriate Discussion thread. Be sure to offer at least three direct
quotes from the text to support your points. After you have posted, please post a response of
at least 25 words to the postings of at least two of your classmates.
Do you think Foster is offering a critique of Eliza, providing a model to young female readers
of the dangers of being a coquette and becoming a “fallen woman” (she gives in to passion
over reason)? Or is Foster subverting that model by presenting the difficulties women faced in
pursuing the same kind of freedom men possessed in determining their life choices (she seeks
individualism over conformity)?