Sentementalism in "Charlotte Temple"

714 Words3 Pages
According to Wikipedia, the term sentimental novel is defined as, “The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is an 18th century literary genre which celebrates the emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment, sentimentalism, and sensibility. Sentimental novels relied on emotional response, both from their readers and characters” (Wikipedia). However, I define the genre to be one that encompasses both the feeling that it evokes from the readers as well as the tears that it can produce. Obviously as discussed in class, there are seven ideas that qualify a book as a sentimental novel, but, one stylistic that I felt to be left out of those seven is that to me there seemed to be a cultural evil of society throughout Charlotte Temple, as well as other sentimental novels I have read. The evil that I felt was portrayed in Charlotte Temple is not the independence Charlotte wants, but the realization that she can’t get her independence happily without the financial and emotional assistance that others can give her. She even admits her confinement to being reliant on others after the letter from her parents. She says, “I will not wound the hearts of those dear parents who make my happiness the whole study of their lives…"(Rowson 46). This evil element of trying to discover her own independence taunts Charlotte throughout the text. Charlotte Temple, by Susannah Rowson was popular in the 19th Century simply because it was just that; simple. The characters were simple, the plot, the theme, everything. Simple. Anyone could read it and understand it. It was pleasing for young and old, male and female and mother, daughter. This, as well as its promiscuity is what drove this book to sell 25,000 copies in just one year. Sentimental genres, although harshly criticized in the 19th Century because of its seduction and sexual context were popular very much because of what
Open Document