A charming, dashing young officer in the British Army, John Montraville falls in love with Charlotte Temple in Chichester and hopes to marry her. However, his father refuses to endorse a marriage to a poor woman, so Montraville makes Charlotte his mistress and brings her to America with him. He tries to treat her honorably but is easily deceived by his friend Belcour, who ruins his relationship with Charlotte so he can have her as his own mistress. Despite his inability to control his womanizing impulses, Montraville feels guilty about the misfortune he causes Charlotte and others.
Belcour is John Montraville's "brother officer" in the army and his best friend. He is a lively bon vivant but has a weak character and is easily tempted by women. He flits from one mistress to another and has difficulty committing to anyone. His manipulative, callous side comes out when he purposely ruins Charlotte's relationship with Montraville so that he can make her his mistress.
Madame Du Pont
The upstanding, kindly headmistress of Charlotte's boarding school in Chichester.
The fifteen-year-old protagonist of the novel. Charlotte Temple is of noble blood (her paternal grandfather is an earl) but her father gave up his fortune to marry her mother, a working-class woman. They live in a cottage in the countryside, but Charlotte attends Madame Du Pont's boarding school. She loves her family and tries to behave morally, but is indecisive and naïve.
Charlotte's father is referred to as "Mr. Temple" throughout the novel. He is from a large noble family, but becomes estranged from them when he falls in love with Lucy Eldridge, a commoner who is too poor for him to marry. He marries her anyway, and they raise their only daughter, Charlotte, in a cottage on a modest income. He is charitable to a fault, often giving to those less fortunate even when he cannot afford to do so.
Captain Eldridge is the father of Lucy Temple (née Eldridge) and thus Charlotte's maternal grandfather. Mr. Temple helped him pay his way out of debtor's prison and eventually married his daughter. He deeply loves his family and lives with them in their cottage.
Mrs. Lucy Temple
Born Lucy Eldridge, Charlotte's mother is the daughter of an army captain who has fallen upon hard times. She marries Mr. Temple after he helps her father pay his debts and thus get out of debtor's prison. She is of frail constitution but is a warm, loving mother who likes to arrange gifts and surprises for Charlotte.
This soldier approaches Mr. Temple on Captain Eldridge's behalf when the latter is in debtor's prison.
Captain Eldridge's son and Lucy's brother. Captain Eldridge goes into debt so his son can get a good start in the military, but George is killed in battle. Had he lived, he would have been Charlotte's maternal uncle.
A wealthy friend of George Eldridge's from boarding school. He lends money to Captain Eldridge, but demands it back when the Captain refuses to let him marry his daughter, Lucy.
Mr. Temple was supposed to marry the wealthy Miss Weatherby before he fell in love with Lucy Eldridge. She is spoiled and of weak character, and eventually marries Mr. Temple's father, the Earl of D---, to get revenge on him.
Earl of D---
Mr. Temple's father is noble but has only a mediocre fortune. He hopes to marry his many children off to wealthy spouses, and disowns Mr. Temple when he insists on marrying the commoner Lucy Eldridge instead.
Mademoiselle La Rue
Mademoiselle La Rue is the young, beautiful French teacher at Charlotte's boarding school. She had a colorful past before obtaining this position, running away from a convent with a young officer before living with several different men in London. She is bored with life at the school and is eager to run away with Belcour, and she influences the impressionable Charlotte to do the same with Montraville.
Mademoiselle La Rue's married name
Although he only has a small role in the novel, Montraville's Father is largely responsible for Charlotte's misfortune, since he insists that Montraville only marry a wealthy woman (or wait until he is advanced in his career if he wants to take a poor bride).
Crayton is a wealthy, generous officer on the ship to America, who falls in love with Mademoiselle La Rue because he is charmed by her foreignness. His first wife died many years ago, and he has one daughter by her, Mrs. Beauchamp.
A wealthy officer, married to Crayton's daughter.
Crayton's generous daughter first meets Charlotte when her father introduces her alongside Mademoiselle La Rue. She risks social ostracism to help Charlotte, on whom she takes pity.
This eighteen-year-old heiress is "the universal toast" of New York society for her beauty, wealth, and kindness. Montraville marries her after Belcour tells him Charlotte has been unfaithful.
Julia's elderly father is known in New York for his generosity.
A generous but destitute servant of Mr. and Mrs. Crayton, John takes in Charlotte after Mrs. Crayton refuses to give her shelter.
Not to be confused with Charlotte's mother, Charlotte's baby daughter. She goes to live with Charlotte's parents at the end of the novel, and is the subject of a later novel by Rowson, Lucy Temple.
Charlotte Temple Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Charlotte Temple is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
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...
Charlotte Temple is a novel of seduction, and its didactic message is certainly complicated by Rowson's romantic depiction of Montraville. Even after he has abandoned Charlotte, he remains tormented and even Byronic, maintaining his allure for...