Charlotte Temple

Charlotte Temple Summary and Analysis of Chapters XXI-XXV


Chapter XXI

Mrs. Beauchamp feels uncomfortable about visiting Charlotte because she has no one to introduce her. She overcomes her embarrassment by bringing a gift of cucumbers, and explains that she wants to be friends. Charlotte, overcome with emotion, begins to cry, but Mrs. Beauchamp consoles her and invites her over for dinner. At dinner, Charlotte tells her story. Mrs. Beauchamp suggests that perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Temple did not receive their daughter’s letters, and tells Charlotte to send another letter through her instead of Montraville.

Chapter XXII

Charlotte writes an extremely apologetic letter to her mother. She explains that she honestly thought Montraville would marry her, but she has been proven wrong. The letter also describes a dream Charlotte has had, in which her mother and grandfather have died of grief because of her actions. Finally and most importantly, Charlotte announces in the letter that she is pregnant.

Chapter XXIII

Montraville is deeply in love with Julia Franklin, but refrains from pursuing a relationship because he does not want to leave Charlotte while she is pregnant. Belcour, sensing an opportunity, tells Montraville that Charlotte is cheating on him. Montraville is deeply upset, but is called away on duty for six weeks and cannot look into the situation. When he returns, he goes to Charlotte’s house to discover her in bed with Belcour. Charlotte has no idea how Belcour got there, but Montraville does not believe her. He promises to send money for her and the baby, but refuses to see her again.

Chapter XXIV

We learn that Belcour tricked both Charlotte and Montraville. On the day of the break-up, Belcour had come to visit Charlotte but was informed by the servant that she was taking a nap. He read a book while waiting for her to wake up, but when he saw Montraville coming up the road, he sneaked in to Charlotte’s bedroom to make it look like they were having an affair. Before leaving, Belcour bribes the servant to forward all of Charlotte’s outgoing mail to him, so that she will not be able to write Montraville and convince him of her innocence.

Belcour goes to visit Montraville, who is consumed with guilt—he blames himself for corrupting Charlotte. His friend tries to cheer him up, suggesting that Julia Franklin is a better match for him anyway. At that moment, Julia walks by their window with her father and greets them. Montraville rushes out to walk with her while Belcour distracts her father by discussing politics with him. As they chat, Montraville is overcome by guilt and is on the verge of confessing his problem with Charlotte to Julia, but he is interrupted when Belcour and Mr. Franklin join the conversation.

Chapter XXV

Back in England, Charlotte’s parents are weeping together as they think about their daughter’s suffering. A servant enters with the letter from Charlotte, which her parents instantly recognize by the handwriting. They forgive their daughter and want her to come home, so Mr. Temple decides to go to America to retrieve her. Mrs. Temple wants to go too, but she is too weak to make the voyage. She writes Charlotte and tells her to wait for her father to come and get her.


Letters continue to play an important role in this section of the narrative, both as a plot device and as a kind of direct address from the characters to the reader. For the first time, Charlotte’s describes her feelings on her situation in her own words, and her abject pain is even more raw and affecting because she is able to narrate it in the first person. In her letter in Chapter XXII, Charlotte frequently uses the first person, unlike in her first letter, which is written entirely in the third person. This speaks to her newfound maturity and willingness to take responsibility for her elopement.

However, Charlotte’s letter reveals a continuing tendency to shift the blame for her situation onto others—in this case, Montraville and Mademoiselle La Rue. Arguably, the narrator shares Charlotte’s opinion that Montraville and La Rue are partially responsible for her downfall; she frequently refers to La Rue as a strong influence on Charlotte, and suggests that Montraville’s feelings of guilt are justified.

Although Rowson acknowledges that young women face a variety of hazards that can steer them into ruin—the influence of immoral women, enterprising suitors looking only for a fortune—she does not advocate that her readers work to change this situation. Instead, she encourages them to develop the strength of character and wisdom to accept the world as it is. Her early digression about the importance of “contentment” applies to the lot of women in general, as well as one’s personal situation.

Belcour’s manipulation of Charlotte reinforces Rowson’s earlier portrayal of gender relations corrupted by money. He is able to buy off Charlotte’s servant to prevent her from reconciling with Montraville, and he encourages Montraville to pursue Julia so he can increase his fortune quickly. By associating this mercenary approach to marriage with the novel’s most villainous character, Rowson takes a strong stance against it.

Furthermore, by emphasizing Montraville’s initial desire to marry Charlotte (until Belcour tells him she is unfaithful), the author suggests that the novel’s entire disaster could have been avoided if it were more socially acceptable to marry for love. Montraville continues to be portrayed sympathetically in this section, feeling responsible for Charlotte’s corruption since she was innocent when he seduced her. His psychological torment demonstrates that marrying for money or social advancement also takes a toll on men, and sets them on a path of spiritual, emotional, and moral bankruptcy, even as they increase their wealth.