Death Of The American Dream: The Revolutionary Meaning Of Infant Mortality And Mourning In Hannah Webster Foster's the Coquette
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This thesis explores the broader implications of Hannah Webster Foster's The Coquette through an acknowledgment and assessment of a male audience. The Coquette is a seduction narrative that is linked through form and tradition to Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple and William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy. However, this project examines the unique strategies Foster employs to make literary meaning outside the space of domesticity. The Coquette's social and political aims can be located in the textual divergences from similar texts of the period. Foster refuses to make narrative apologies, shifts the point of view, and appears determined to more directly comment on the role of masculine production in the new republic through a sort of literary castration of the male figures in the text. Foster strips the male figures of their reproductive efforts and denies them a future stake in the creation of the new Republic. In the end, Foster's novel subjugates men to a mere silent existence, giving way ot the highly sympathetic language of mourning for the "lost" woman, her bastard infant, and all the other lost children sacrificed in the name of patriarchal traditions.