Hope Leslie


’’Hope Leslie’’ surfaces amidst a time of conflict, rivalry, and hatred; however, the tale embodies a thematic scheme of love, honor, and trust despite the aura of negativity. The story also positively promotes the rights of women in a time when women had no rights by giving them the ability to form and state opinions without fear of unjust criticism. An example of this happens when Mononotto says "when women put down their womanish thoughts and counsel like men, they should be obeyed" (1019, Norton Anthology). Normally, fiction written during this time did not have the fairytale ending which makes this story a pleasant, welcome surprise in that the ending is satisfying to readers because of the element of the unexpected. Within the realm of the unexpected, the characters are developed to represent entire nations and the beliefs of these nations despite the fact that they will all not portray the characteristics set as the "norm." For example, the first half [Magiwisca’s History of the Pequod War] reveals Digby as the Puritan population as a whole, whereas Everell can be seen as part of the outcast population. Digby, or most of the Puritans, showed no compassion towards the Native Americans solely based on the color of their skin, thus weaving the story within the story to show the problematic discrimination present during the time but with a satisfying "twist." ’’Hope Leslie’’ is definitely a story that can be seen as containing a “big picture” which revealed the author's ability to both perceive and correct an uncomfortable situation yet allow the reader to realize that the situation was a part of the lifestyles of the people of this time.

The second half [Magawisca's Farewell] of the story actually simplifies the entire evolution of the Puritan/Native-American conflict into perspective. The author, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, really presents the reader with an eye-opening experience through Magawisca's recollection of the what happened to Everell revealing that love has the potential to conquer hatred despite the odds being stacked against it in all situations. The contradictory interactions between the two groups caused so much mayhem that it seemed that the situation was impossible; however, ’’Hope Leslie’’ is a story of reform and divulges the true power of friendship and progressive morality. ’’Hope Leslie’’ instills that "love is blind" and what it means to abide by the Golden Rule of loving one's neighbor as himself..

The willingness of Hope, Digby, and Everell to risk their own acceptance into the Puritan community by taking part in the rescue of Magiwisca, is an honorable act of its own. But, given the diction used by Sedgwick, "Everell and Hope remained immoveable, gazing on the little boat till it faded in the dim distance; for a few moments, every feeling for themselves was lost in grief of parting for ever from the admirable being [Magiwisca], who seemed to her enthusiastic young friends, one of the noblest of the works of God--a bright witness to the beauty, the independence, and the immortality of virtue,"[1] it is obvious that there is a saintliness bond between Everell, Digby, and Hope towards Magiwisca that contradicts the hatred they had once been taught to practice. The ultimate theme of this story is independence. Each character portrayed the gain of independence in his/her own way. The most obvious is Magiwisca's ability to escape and literally sail away towards her freedom. Hope, Everell, and Digby all gained independence by ultimately escaping from the ways of their people. They were all irrevocably given the chance to "escape" from their ideals and gain the knowledge to define themselves at their own discretion, thus each represented the author's opinion of how each nation should have acted under the same set of circumstances even though they did not.

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