Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eliza's Choices

Eliza Wharton was a woman who portrayed dreams and thoughts of an era beyond the one in which she lived. She spent her youth taking care of her father and then her fiance; therefore, when she was free from these constraints, she embraced society wholeheartedly. Eliza expressed an immaturity in believing that she could go out into society and behave in a way that was frowned upon, while also seeking the respectability of marriage.

Eliza focused on two very different gentlemen in her life. One gentleman, Mr. Boyer was a preacher who would give her the life of respectability that women in this time period seek, but the other was considered a rake who could ruin her reputation as a woman of virtue by being seen in his company. She encourages Major Sanford in his advances because he offers her the freedom to which she wishes for. She is an outgoing woman who enjoys the gaiety of the social life, and lively conversation. When she is with Sanford, this is what she gets.

Eliza realizes that the advice she receives from her friends is true and that she should be commiting to Mr. Boyer and discouraging Major Sanford, but she cannot bring herself to let go of her freedom for a life of duties that will stifle her liveliness. In her immaturity, Eliza seems to be under the impression that she can keep putting Mr. Boyer off, enjoying the dancing and courting of Sanford, and he will be there for her when she is finally ready to settle down to the life of being a preachers wife. Eliza really seems to want to take the advice of her friends and discourage Sanford and settle down with Boyer, but she is unable to follow this advice.

However, what Eliza does not seem to understand, that within her society, the choices which she is making will only ruin her, causing her to lose the freedom that she thinks she is clinging to. What Eliza needed to do was look beyond just these two gentlemen and attempt to find someone who could fulfill her need for enjoying society's functions, yet maintain the respectability of a woman who makes a good marriage.

While Eliza's wish to be free to go about society as a single woman enjoying the company of anyone she wishes, this was not acceptable behavior by women during this time period. Through Eliza and the letters, Foster brings the issues on the lack of options for women to the forefront. Eliza's forward thinking and vitality would have ruined Mr. Boyer. I can't see Eliza being able to confine herself as a preachers wife without becoming miserable. So why did she only focus on this one gentleman as her option for a respectable marriage? There had to have been others in the picture. I felt that maybe Eliza focused on Mr. Boyer has her marriage option because of the advice she received from her friends. Mrs. Richman, as well as Lisa, were encouraging her to commit to Mr. Boyer.


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