Close Reading American Literature

It’s Magawisca!

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The cover painting of Magawisca even though the title is “Hope Leslie.” Photo Credit: Amazon

Hey everyone! This is one of the body paragraphs to my final paper. I was inspired to write about Magawisca because I do admire her character and how she continues to be badass despite her social status. This is a draft and I will continue to work on it! I will appreciate the criticisms, I feel that I am all over the place. Many thanks and may all the good luck circulate for finals week!

Sedgwick characterizes Magawisca in a positive light, possessing qualities that suit her heroic deeds, but there are underlying meanings of the details. From the moment we first meet Magawisca, she is described as, “Her face, although marked by the peculiarities of her race, was beautiful even to the European eye”(23). It seems that the markings on her face represented her Native American identity was written as peculiar, but it was still acceptable because she looked aesthetically appealing to European standards. This notion undermines her culture, deeming the markings as strange and unsightly, but Magawisca’s beauty still glows beneath it. On the other hand, Magawisca is also stereotyped as a noble savage, with underlying tones of how “well dressed she is” despite her being a Native American. It is portrayed that she held a higher level of intelligence and grace because she was the princess of her tribe. Native Americans were viewed as an inferior group, so acting above what Puritans expected of her race was a special thing about her.

When Magawisca encounters the scalp of what she thought was her father, she is emotionally triggered and demands answers from the Indian of a neighboring tribe. She quickly recovers from the shock and took action for a message to be delivered to her father. It can be seen that Magawisca is diligent and logical to make decisions to receive help. Nina Baym offers another viewpoint and analyzes Magawisca’s perception of, “taking herself very lightly— has no ego, or a damaged one…”(19). She confides in the ability of others to meet her demands. Baym claims that Magawisca falls into the example of how the heroine lacks the confidence to believe in herself. Because of this, she cannot perform heroic deeds yet and she looks for protectors. She does not believe in herself to improve the situation for the better. In this sense, she does find some kind of safe haven at the Fletchers’ house. Magawisca had told Ms. Fletcher, “… thou hast been kind to me as the motherbird that shelters the wanderer in her nest…”(40) to show her gratitude for her kindness and motherly protection. However, Magawisca’s stay with the Fletchers cannot fully be considered “to protect her” but she was taken in as a servant for the household. She is described as being very productive and quick with her work as well as learning new skills in the meantime. She upholds the noble savage definition, where she learns the way of the white man and strays away from her culture. 

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4 thoughts on “It’s Magawisca!

  1. I’m just going to dive in and ask, what is your thesis question? From these two paragraphs, you’ve introduced the character Magawisca and one outside criticism but where do you stand. The first paragraph, without a transition to the second, feels incomplete and it is mostly establishing Magawisca’s characterization as a noble savage. This is kindof off from the crit

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    1. (sorry, my laptop freaked out) I was saying, your second paragraph introduced a new view that Magawisca has no ego, no confidence, no agency? and this makes your quotations and analysis in the first paragraph unnecessary. Oh! you said this is one body paragraph, sorry, even then there should be more cohesion in the quotes you choose to analyse.Since I don’t know your thesis sentence, I am unsure where your own voice is. Are you arguing for or against Baym’s claims? This body paragraph should start with a sentence that echoes your argument in the introduction and tells the reader immediately where you stand. Maybe you can use less quotes that support the Noble Savage idea and more quotes that agree with Magawisca being kind of infantile, hopeless on her own, and dependent on others. Or are you arguing that these two ideas are the same, that a Noble Savage is entirely dependent on other’s assistance in order to take action? You should make your opinion clear at all times and choose quotes that only serve your purpose. That could help make this essay clearer in what it’s trying to argue.

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  2. This is a good beginning on the analysis of Magawisca, but like our fellow classmate stated it is unclear what you’re trying to prove exactly. Aside from that you do gather really good quotes, I think that if you haven’t developed your thesis quite yet, you could develop it around your evidence presented here. Some could deal with how Magawisca is subject of intense and harmful European gaze, or something related to the noble savage term itself would give you a variety of text to reflect on. I know I had trouble coming up with a thesis, but I started to look at the articles I was finding, and the evidence I was gathering and that helped me shape my thesis.

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  3. A good way to make your argument clearer and more refined (even in the body paragraphs) is to strengthen your topic sentences by making sure each illustrates your claim in YOUR voice. Avoid starting a paragraph with description. More analysis and less description is necessary for this assignment. Also, many of your sentences feel rushed (there are several grammatical errors and vague phrasings that have fuzzy meaning). Make sure you carefully and deliberately say what you mean and mean what you say. Proofreading is your best friend, especially as you get closer to finalizing your draft!

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