Hope Leslie

The Female Creation of Law and Order in Hope Leslie College

In her novel Hope Leslie, Catharine Maria Sedgwick explores the influence laws arising from religion, nature, and society have on the development of a new nation. Specifically, her historical romance analyzes the culture created by seventeenth-century Puritans who left England behind to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As the Puritans abandoned England, they escaped the restrictions on their religion and were given the opportunity to write new laws for America’s social order. The traditional laws of England did not apply to America, because the two countries faced completely different challenges. Sedgwick embodies the laws that must be reevaluated within the characters of Esther, Magawisca, and Hope. Esther, the pious female, represents the law of religion; Magawisca, the proud Indian, represents the law of nature; and Hope, the independent woman, represents the law of society. Sedgwick recognized that Puritans would be more willing to alter some laws than others, and signifies the different capacities for change in each female’s relationship with Everell. Esther’s weak emotional connection is contrasted with Magawisca’s stronger union with Everell. Hope develops the closest relationship with Everell, however, suggesting...

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