Seduction through mentoring has a long history within Western rhetoric. Plato's Socrates, for instance, can be seen as attempting simultaneously to educate and seduce Phaedrus. In considering this topic, this essay analyzes the mid-nineteenth century correspondence of Louise Clappe and Alexander Hill Everett. Clappe was a young New England woman who later authored The Shirley Letters from the California Mines, 1851-1852. Everett was a prominent diplomat, orator, and writer. The study examines the explicit lessons conveyed, the ways the correspondence enhanced Clappe's civic understanding as well as her social and literary skills. In addition, it explores the implicit lessons Clappe learned through navigating constraints associated with seduction, including the ability to challenge gendered expectations and the capacity to negotiate power and even benefit from it.

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