American Literature Discussion #4.  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.

American Literature

American Literature

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)?

Requirements: 500-1000 words



For convenience and cost savings for students, this course utilizes two Open Educational Resources (OER) textbooks, available to students as free downloads

Becoming America: An Exploration of American Literature from Precolonial to Post Revolution.

Edited by Wendy Kurant, ISBN: 978-1-940771-46-5, University of North Georgia Press.

Writing the Nation: A Concise Introduction to American Literature 1865 to present.

Edited by Amy Burke, et al. ISBN: 978-1-940771-34-2, University of North Georgia Press

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In her book The Coquette, Hannah Webster Foster offers a critique of Eliza by showing the dangers of becoming a Coquette. Foster shows how Eliza is to blame for her downfall. At first, Sarah is engaged but later flees from that engagement. Eliza claims that she does not love the man and uses this as a justification for her freeing. Foster criticizes this by indicating how Eliza becomes the old one out as most of her friends are married. Lucy, who was one of her unmarried friends, gets married and becomes Mrs. Summer. It is by breaking this engagement that Eliza becomes single and ends up heartbroken and depressed.