Julie Le Roy
One of the most sensational and moralistic dime novels, Julie le Roy has one of the most tragic endings. Naïve of the ways of men, Julie falls prey to a young man named Herbert Graham. By the time Herbert meets Julie, he has scorned the woman he truly loved because her family lost their money. Herbert then followed a path of reckless dissipation, culminating in his seduction of Julie. She is not in position to recognize that he is not only lying to her, but that his talk of love is meant to bed her, not to wed her.
The narrator suggests that, in these circumstances, Julie’s trajectory is inevitable. Her lack of worldly knowledge, combined with Herbert’s skills in verbal seduction, leaves her no choice but to succumb to him. Julie’s downfall is sealed, ironically, by an attempt to save her from Herbert. Herbert’s aunt realizes what he is doing, and she sends Julie a letter informing her of the details of Herbert’s chicanery. When he next comes to visit her, Julie confronts him with her full realization of his intentions toward her.
Julie's words highlight a recurring theme of ruined women in dime novels: the idea that a woman’s sexual disrepute is a fate worse than death. Julie claims that she would rather die than become Herbert's mistress, and she seems to keep a dagger on her person for just that purpose (and she's not the only woman in a dime novel to do so). Even when she's threatening to kill herself, Julie highlights the naiveté that is characteristic of the ruined woman. She refuses to become Herbert's mistress even though she has allowed him to keep her in a room in a less than reputable boarding house and has already had sex with him. Of course, Herbert does not respond well to Julie's words. She flees when he tries to assault her, and she trips and falls in the process.
Though she is not the main character of the novel, Julie’s seduction and death drive Herbert’s reformation. He is put on trial for Julie's murder, and he fights to prove his innocence. Though he did not deliberately stab her, Herbert comes to see that her death is the result of his dishonorable behavior toward her. His eventual acquittal of responsibility in her death forces him to resume a better manner of living. After he reforms, he reconciles with the fiancée whom he abandoned and eventually marries her.