我这两周学到了很多关于核武器的危害，我原来以为他们式验核武器都是挑没有人的地方，谁知道很多地方都是有人的，或者天气风向突然变化把辐射都吹到有人的地方，看了很多极端恶心的照片， 但是这门课很简单，没有期中或期末，只有每个周四一个十分的小测验，太开心了，我拿了九分。以后要那十分。 因为这是一个anthropology class， 所以他们grade的时候super sensitive. 那些测验分三堆，one is regular English speakers, then there is student athletes, and international students. 我把我的交到国际学生的时候那个ta不相信我是international student.令我很无语。这个礼拜一还下了几粒小雪花，现在气温又回升了，我真的很想下雪，可以停几天课，嘿嘿。
After reading Foster’s ‘The Coquette’ I came to the conclusion that the novella by means of conveying to the reader Eliza Wharton’s coquettish behavior as inappropriate is meant to problematize the eighteenth-century U.S. social norms regarding a women’s proper behavior. Throughout my readings of ‘The Coquette’, whenever Eliza executed her own desire and acted on her own accord, she would be going against the moral code of the society. Therefore, I suggest that Foster is saying that women should have rights to their own actions and should not be judged by society for actions that is precipitated by man such as Sanford and Boyer.
The social conventions for a woman in Eliza’s time are that women should stay at home, marry a good husband, be loyal and be faithful. That is a woman’s job in society’s eyes. Eliza was betrothed to Mr. Haly, a man who she did not care much for, she agreed to marriage simply out of her respect and love for her parents. When Haly died, Eliza was ready to go back to her usual air of vivacity and liveliness, which was well received by friends and families. Then along comes Boyer, suddenly everyone wants Eliza to secure a marriage with the reverend. Lucy Freeman describes Eliza’s desire to shine in the circle of polished society as ‘fading honors, unsatisfactory enjoyments, incapable of gratifying those immortal principles of reason and religion which have been implanted in your mind by nature, assiduously cultivated by the best of parents, and exerted, I trust, by yourself.’(Foster 20) From this sentence, it is not hard to get the feeling that there are many rules and conventions to follow, such as religion, something regularly forced and enforced. The words ‘implanted’ and ‘nature’ are in direct conflict. Lucy claims that it is by nature that woman should behave and live by principles, however, this principle is implanted, cultivated, and had to be exerted, processes that are all artificial and the opposite of natural. Therefore I think these principles act more like a shackle on Eliza and the free spirit, rather than guidelines like they should be.
Other than always being told what the better choices in life is, Eliza was seen by many of her friends as someone who needs counsel and is considered as young and inexperienced. She was told to marry Mr.Haly, to arrange a marriage with Boyer and to avoid Sanford. But contrary to what her friends think of her, Eliza made the right decision in regards to those suggestions and warnings. She decided to see for herself, the difference between the two gentlemen. The result was very confusing as she had a hard time telling those two apart, because other than reputation, Boyer and Sanford is the same. More precisely speaking, they have similar demeanor when interacting with Eliza. Eliza describes her second meeting with Boyer thus ‘His attention was immediately engrossed…his assiduity and politeness were pleasing.’(Foster 8) A similar description of Sanford and be seen from this description ‘My partner was all ease, politeness, and attention.’ (Foster 14) Evidence are found throughout the book that proves that Boyer and Sanford have similar if not identical disposition towards Eliza, which confuses her greatly, making it impossible to determine whether they truly love her.
Another factor that made it hard for Eliza to differentiate between Boyer and Sanford is that Sanford is clearly accomplished at the arts of wooing women; he is sly and clever, also adaptable. After Mrs.Richman warned Eliza about Major Sanford having an undesirable reputation of breaking up families and being ‘coquettish’ for a man. She was on guard for Sanford; however her wariness was slowly chipped away by Sanford’s guiles. Sanford saw the change in Eliza’s behavior, therefore tailored his reaction. The effects were described as ‘an air of affectionate tenderness’. It is a common term to use when describing actions and effects, however, under this particular circumstance where Sanford’s reputation is already under scrutiny, ‘air’ has to it a sense of flightiness, and it is fake and not down to earth. ‘He appeared, however, not to notice’ Eliza’s gloom of suspicion. The word ‘appeared’ further proves that Sanford’s action is affected, the fact that it is barely visible shows how ‘good’ Sanford is at concealing his emotions. Conversation is described as ‘adapted to’ Eliza’s taste and is ‘calculated’ to make Eliza feel at ease. Sanford’s actions left Eliza transfixed and mesmerized.
Women in the society in that period were expected to be loyal and only love one husband. Settling down was the right thing to do and indecisiveness in deciding on a husband was frowned upon. Eliza thinks that one should not be forced to only love a few, and that ‘the idea of a separation, perhaps of an alienation of affection, by means of her entire devotion to another, cast an involuntary gloom over my mind.’(Foster 54) I think that it is unacceptable that one’s love be only reserved for only a few or even one individual. If one has to control the amount of love given to people, it would be equivalent to rationing emotion, an act unfathomable. I think that Eliza did the right thing since she claims that Major Sanford is a man that ‘charms my imagination…affect my heart.’(Foster 66) What else was Eliza supposed to do other than follow her mind and heart? Eliza had the right interpretation and attitude towards her ‘friends’, she accurately thinks that they are ‘friends who pretend to be better judges of my happiness than I am myself.’ (Foster 66) Those are people who would smile when Eliza took their advice or rather order, and berate her when she was even slightly out going or in their view was behaving coquettishly. Eliza was willing to compromise, she agreed to give Boyer her hand, to become a recluse, all she asked in return was to be able to enjoy the last minutes of amusement which is to her taste. Society’s expectation of her however, was not going to relent its rule.
Where Eliza was following her free will and acting in her own accord, society and friends misconstrued her actions as ‘misled by the gayety of your disposition, and that volatility and inconsideration which were incident to your years.’ (Foster 84) Where Eliza was merely trying to determine the worth and virtue of the men by herself, society and friends saw her actions as coquettish. Had those who claimed to be Eliza’s friend really cared for her, they would have made their advice known, and supported Eliza in whatever decision she made. Had Boyer truly loved Eliza, he would not have stormed out of the garden and would never have given up her hand.
Instead, Eliza was judged and I think misjudged, society loved her for her promising future, loved for its expectation of her following the rules and complying with expectations. In this epistolary novel, Eliza was given little or no freedom to determine her future, what made her accepted did not make her happy, what made her happy and satisfied her fancy was not socially acceptable. Society’s expectation of women, friends who give advice like orders, who did not offer support and men who profess love but either did not sees that love through or who have evil intentions forfeited Eliza’s free will. It is ironic that Eliza seems to have the whole world at her fingertips, but she was not even the master of her own action. She tried to be, but ended in loneliness and tragedy.