American Lit may have paid off this week, Friends. Up until this point this particular class had me asking questions like, do I REALLY want to be an English major? But this week we read the early American novel Charlotte Temple by Susanna Haswell Rowson. I loved its old-fashioned boldness to preach through its story. I realize this is unacceptable in today’s literary world, but Rowson was only accepted as a writer in her day because she did promise to deliver a solid Christian message. Ironic.
Anyway, this is the tale of a young Charlotte convinced by the romantic promises of a dashing soldier to leave her boarding school and elope. Her tragic tale apparently ends in her death in childbirth after being abandoned by her supposed Prince Charming. Not so charming now. Rowson early in the novel (we only read an excerpt) even writes directly to the “sober matron” or mother who will read the book before her daughter. That’s how obvious the message is, but the writing is enchanting and the story is surprisingly transcendent. Of slimy guys who talk girls into doing things they don’t really want to do, Rowson says, “I wish for power to extirpate those monsters of seduction from the earth.” My sentiments exactly!
Here is my favorite line after Rowson describes the predicament Charlotte has found herself in. It is Rowson’s way of saying, Be a Rare Rock!
“…kneel down each morning, and request kind heaven to keep you free from temptation, or, should it please to suffer you to be tried, pray for fortitude to resist the impulse of inclination when it runs counter to the precepts of religion and virtue.”
Yeah, do that! : )