As I read Sedgwick’s “Hope Leslie”, I found that the real heroine of the story was truly Magawisca. Sedgwick’s portrayal of her main character Hope Leslie, creates the main story line for another central character named Magawisca. I believe that the title of Sedgwick’s book should have been “Magawisca”. Magawisca’s character gave a genuine and truthful portrayal of the Indian identity. According to Kate Porter in her article, Designing the Future: Hope, Magawisca & Their People’s Struggles for Dominance in Colonial America, she makes this point:
“Similarly, when describing Magawisca, the narrator offers praise for her appearance, saying, “Her form was slender, flexible, and graceful and there was a freedom and loftiness in her movement which though tempered with modesty, expressed a consciousness of high birth her face was beautiful even to a European eye” (23). The narrator continues, “this daughter of a chieftain had an air of wild and fantastic grace, that harmonized well with the noble demeanor and peculiar beauty of the savage” (23). So, while the narrator does describe her as wild and savage, as readers might expect from an Indian, Magawisca also possesses many attributes admired by the Anglo-American culture. Not only can the European eye can appreciate her beauty, but this young woman is also noble and modest, attributes we may not expect to find in an Indian girl.”
I agree with Porter. Magawisca seems to be given a more powerful, natural, and beautiful approach. The further I read it seemed that Magawisca created a way for both the Pequot Indians and Hope Leslie’s people to understand each other. It seemed as if she were playing devil’s advocate because she tries to portray the goodness of her people, but also showing the goodness to her father when he seeks revenge in trying to kill Everell. Magawisca has created a new identity for her people in her approach. She is no longer savage, but she is now humanized with nobility, feelings, and hope for the future with the relations of her people.
If Magawisca had not approached Miss Hope Leslie, then none of the events of the story would have unfolded. Magawisca is the key character to the unfolding of all events. She was the one who arranged for Hope and her sister to meet. Magawisca also set her pride aside, becoming noble and compassionate. We can see this when she changes her pride to try to comfort Hope as she cries for her sister. “There was a cord in Magawisca’s heart that needed but the touch of tenderness to respond in harmony; her pride vanished, and her indignation gave place to sympathy.” She was the one that tried to convince Hope that her sister was in good hands, even in marrying the great Oneco. She was even the one who lost her arm in the attempt of saving Everell, which we then see that both women have fallen in love with him and Magawisca loves Everell, she lets her love for him go.