Week 7 Response

The very last chapter of “Charlotte Temple” is interesting to me because it goes back to Charlotte’s parents in England raising Charlotte’s child.  Up to this point, Belcour is killed by Montraville, and Montraville is left to spend the rest of his days “subject to severe fits of melancholy” and comsumed with guilt and remorse for what had become of Charlotte.  Charlotte, herself, is taken into the care of a kind servant, but it is too late to save her; she dies soon after.  Her father is there to witness his daughter’s last moments and to claim his grandchild, Lucy, and bring her back to safety in England.

What most intrigued me about the last chapter of the novel is that I thought Madame La Rue was going to get away with what part she had taken in Charlotte’s demise.  But Rowson instead saves the worst of all the “villains” for last.  She does not get away scot free; in fact, her marriage has fallen apart and her life has gone completely downhill.  She is treated with pity and kindness by Mrs. Temple, but La Rue feels that she does not deserve any of it, telling Mrs. Temple that “I am the viper that stung your peace.”  La Rue is the final image of the book, subjecting herself to “those miseries […] which I had unfeelingly inflicted on others.”  Despite the Temples efforts to set La Rue up in a hospital, La Rue does not live much longer after her confession.  Rowson’s last statement is perhaps the moral of her tale as well: “[La Rue] died, a striking example that vice, however prosperous in the beginning, in the end leads only to misery and shame.”  I feel this line best exemplifies why “Charlotte Temple” belongs to the world of moral tales and fables – it ends with the moral of the story, the ultimate lesson that is to be learned, the ultimate “truth” in this “Tale of Truth”.

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