Thesis Title

Archetypes, Rhetoric, and the American Reader: Explaining the Success of Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple

Date of Graduation

Spring 1995


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

William Burling


Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple (1791) is America's first best selling novel, yet it receives little attention. Critics tend to dismiss the novel as unimportant, but this thesis argues that it does merit further study as an expression of our country's early culture, primarily of the split between the opposing English and American elements in that culture. The characters reflect the psychological stresses which accompany such a conflict. Analyses of the text written from a Jungian psychological point of view and from a classical rhetorical point of view reveal more clearly the role that Charlotte Temple played in forming America's concept of itself. In addition, the novel, written for women by a woman, embodies what critics now refer to as nascent feminism, that is, feminism presented as a subtext within the main text.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Sally Ann Lemons