Close Reading American Literature

Intro to my final paper: A Look into Hope Leslie’s Female characters and How They Take Control of the Narrative

Disclaimer :  This isn’t final but, I would appreciate your comments, and suggestions are welcomed

In Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s 1827 novel Hope Leslie we see the presence of a welcomed feminist perspective and ideas. Sedgwick’s primary female characters are able to adapt to their environment and are not solely portrayed as victims or as secondary to the men in the novel. In the introduction to Nina Baym’s Woman’s fiction A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America 1820-70, Baym acknowledges and reminds readers that during this era of Literature, American fiction by American women authors about women was by far and away the most popular literature at the time. This dismisses the myth that women led narratives were unpopular or unsuccessful in comparison to male authors. In fact Baym states “That men did not compose in this genre was surely not accidental. Most of them assumed an audience of men as a matter of course, and reacted with distress and dismay as they discovered that to make a living by writing they would have to please female readers”, women readers were a key factor to the success of the American Fiction genre, and as Baym recounts, Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s novels were the earliest examples in America to have female characters construct the narrative around their journey and goals. The characters of Hope Leslie and Magawisca are prime examples of female characters who have their own views and partake in their own decisions, they look after one another and while they are somewhat placed to be romantic rivals to each other, they both transcend and break free from ideals being forced on to them. In the novel we see that both female characters are placed in societies that expect them to act a certain way, and to think in a certain way but, we see that Hope and Magawisca are able to look beyond the ideals of other men in the novel through rejecting their love, or rejecting their demands, or rejecting their validity.

Featured image source : Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Woman’s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and About Women in America, 1820-1870 by Nina Baym ( This can be found in the class dropbox under Encounters (Re)presented, in Recommended Reading)


4 thoughts on “Intro to my final paper: A Look into Hope Leslie’s Female characters and How They Take Control of the Narrative

  1. This paragraph could be broken into different paragraphs by topic but is very informative. Your argument is understandable. Maybe in your last sentence you could remove the or’s because you are writing about all of their rejections of societal expectations.Your quote connections are strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is coming along nicely, kevine95! I am glad the Baym has been helpful to you. I echo vhayes056’s sentiments and encourage you to proofread before submitting the final draft just to rule out the occasional minor error. Keep up the good work!


  3. I agree Hope Leslie does support early feminist ideas.Their were two strong independent female characters in Hope Leslie. Leslie and Magawisca. You should talk about specific events in the book that show their detachment from typical female norms. One would be Magawisca preventing Everell execution. Getting your am chopped off in order to stop an Native from killing someone would of been seen as a manly thing to do. you can discuss how Magawisca detracts from typical sterotypes of Native American characters.

    good job so far researching the historical background information on this novel


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