Is Charlotte simply a victim of a male-dominated society, or does she choose her own fate? What about Montraville? In what way was he victimized by society?
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Most of the novel's male characters are driven by the imperative to marry women who can increase the size of their fortunes. For Montraville and Mr. Temple, this is enforced by their fathers, who threaten to disown them if they don't marry heiresses. The weak-willed Montraville submits to this, even when it means abandoning Charlotte to his treacherous friend Belcour. However, Mr. Temple provides a positive counterexample of how to behave, reluctantly leaving his family when his father insists he marry the vapid Miss Weatherby instead of honorable Lucy Eldridge. Although Rowson believes that women have a choice in their fate, she demonstrates that the system of marrying for money incentivizes men to treat women dishonorably, and the biggest victims of this system are working- and middle-class women who are misled by their suitors.