Feminism In Catharine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie

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In Hope Leslie, Catharine Sedgwick constructs a new form of the literary heroine and contributes to the earliest idea of feminism. Her characters allow the reader to question the expectations placed on women and the standards which a woman’s worth is judged on. Each woman in the novel differs in the traits they represent and their ability to uphold traditional Puritan values. As she builds relatability to her characters, Sedgwick emphasizes the importance of personal moral decisions and staying true to one’s own morals. Sedgwick redefined the idea of womanhood from the strict ideals of Puritanism by creating a protagonist who is a more modern, independent christian woman.
When Sedgwick was writing this novel in the nineteenth century not many people held the same
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Being religious herself, Sedgwick doesn’t completely turn from this idea, but actually argues that it is possible for women to have independence while still remaining pious. Hope Leslie represents this in the novel by maintaining her religious faith despite her rebellions against the law. Although she defied the community leaders several times throughout the novel, her decisions were always influenced by her own morals and understanding of her faith. During her lifetime, Hope had been exposed to many different types of Christianity which all influenced her religious views allowing her to choose what she believed. In a time period when many only ever experienced the religious views they were born into, Hope’s ability to choose was a very progressive idea and in a way added validity to her faith. On the other hand, Esther Downing represents the strict Puritan idea of how a pious woman should act. While her family and the leaders in the community admire her faith, readers might have a more difficult time relating to her character, especially after she refuses to help rescue Magawisca due to her religious

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