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The Liminal Time of Friendship: Narrative Delay in Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette

  • Molly Ball
Chapter

Abstract

While many scholars have analyzed friendship’s role in The Coquette, scant attention has been paid to friendship’s tendency to slow the novel’s plot. By impeding plot progression, Eliza Wharton’s friendships allow her to linger in a liminal state. In this way, she defers a future (both personal and national) determined by Republican Motherhood—a role that required wives in the early republic to reproduce ideologies that perpetuated their own subordination. Yet friendship’s remedy is temporary at best. Ultimately, the novel presents friendship as a relationship predicated on formal equality; The Coquette suggests that class and gender differences render friendship unsustainable. Thus, friendship proves unable to replace marriage as a model for more equitable sociopolitical relations. Still, in spite of these failings, friendship in The Coquette works to repurpose seduction fiction by inscribing the desire for a more expansive feminine self into a genre that often sought to contain such desires.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Molly Ball
    • 1
  1. 1.Eureka CollegeEurekaUSA

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