Charlotte Temple

Charlotte Temple Summary and Analysis of Chapters XI-XV


Chapter XI

For the following week, Charlotte continues to visit Montraville every day. He begs her to elope with him, but Charlotte refuses, since her parents would not approve, and even if they did, she could not bear to leave her mother. However, Montraville convinces her that her parents would be happy to hear she is with “a man of honour.” Belcour and Mademoiselle La Rue agree with Montraville, so Charlotte promises to go with him. Meanwhile, La Rue decides to accompany Belcour.

Chapter XII

Charlotte sleeps badly that night, and Madame Du Pont notices the next morning that she seems upset. The headmistress has come to Charlotte’s room to give her a letter from her parents, telling her to come home that day for her surprise party. As she reads the letter, Charlotte begins to cry, thinking of how disappointed her parents would be if they knew she was planning to elope. She decides not to go through with it, and visits Mademoiselle La Rue to tell her about her new plans.

La Rue is annoyed that Charlotte no longer wants to run away with Montraville. She explains that regardless of Charlotte’s plans, she is still going with Belcour. She adds that if Charlotte stands Montraville up, he might come to the school to demand an explanation, humiliating Charlotte. Concerned about this, Charlotte goes with La Rue to the field, where she plans to break up with Montraville. However, Montraville persuades her to go with him, and she sadly leaves behind her school and her family.

Chapter XIII

Captain Eldridge happily arrives at the school to pick up Charlotte for her party. The girls are at prayers, but Charlotte and La Rue are mysteriously absent. Madame Du Pont initially assumes that they are getting ready for Charlotte’s party, but it quickly becomes clear that the women have disappeared. They discover an unsigned note explaining where Charlotte has gone, and adding that it is useless to pursue her. Captain Eldridge returns home, crying all the way.

Chapter XIV

When he gets home, several of the party guests have already arrived and Captain Eldridge cannot contain his tears. Mrs. Temple assumes that Charlotte has died, but Captain Eldridge corrects her. The entire family cries, and Mrs. Temple says a prayer for Charlotte, even though she views elopement as the “one misfortune which is worse than death.” The narrator reminds readers that they should always remember their mothers when they are about to make a poor decision.

Chapter XV

Charlotte, Montraville, Belcour, and La Rue all take a carriage from Chichester to Portsmouth, where they plan to catch a ship for America. On the way, Charlotte is consumed by guilt and writes an apologetic letter to her family. She hopes her parents will write her back and forgive her, but Montraville tears up her letter and throws it in the ocean, worried that Charlotte’s father will pursue him if he receives the letter with the couple’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s parents desperately search for the young couple. They hope Charlotte will return once she has been married, and they decide in advance that they will forgive her if that is the case. Eventually, the family gives up hope and Charlotte’s mother resolves to devote herself to taking care of her husband and father.


In this section, Rowson continues to develop female role models for her readers. Although men’s tendency to marry for money leaves poor and middle-class women with few options, Charlotte’s mother is a paragon of virtue that demonstrates how best to deal with being in such a situation. Although she is poor, she accepts the many misfortunes of her life and dedicates herself to serving others.

Notably, the story of Charlotte’s mother has a melancholy and uncertain ending, leaving her to care for the men in her life indefinitely with no hope of getting her daughter back. Through this character’s fate, Rowson emphasizes that morality is not always rewarded. It is important to note that although Charlotte makes many bad choices and suffers because of them, the author is not suggesting a one-to-one correlation between bad deeds and an unhappy life. Indeed, Mademoiselle La Rue already made many decisions before the beginning of the story that are immoral by Rowson’s standards, but she still managed to secure a position at an upscale ladies’ boarding school.

In some ways, Charlotte’s parents are more forgiving than the narrator is; they are willing to pardon her misdeeds if only she returns to them. Similarly, Mr. Temple agrees to take out a mortgage on his own property to help Captain Eldridge, a decision that Rowson judges as foolish and excessively selfless.

The warmth and goodness of Charlotte’s parents serves two narrative functions: it increases the pathos of their grief when they realize their daughter has left them, and it also helps to explain Charlotte’s foolishness—Rowson repeatedly insinuates that the young woman is spoiled. Thus, the novel’s “lessons” are directed not only at young women like Charlotte, but also to their parents, whom Rowson acknowledges might read the book before giving it to their daughters.

Meanwhile, Mademoiselle La Rue serves as a foil for Charlotte’s mother. A mother figure in her own right, La Rue encourages Charlotte to make the same questionable decisions that she does, and even manipulates her into seeing Montraville again, foreseeing that Charlotte will be unable to resist the dashing officer. As Mrs. Temple is an unequivocally positive role model for young women, Mademoiselle La Rue serves as a warning of what they should not become. Both women influence the impressionable Charlotte, but ultimately the persistence and proximity of Mademoiselle La Rue win out, drawing the young girl into a life of misery.