Clothing, history, and narrative in Catharine Maria Sedgwick's "Hope Leslie"
Ganster, Mary T.
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This paper seeks to explore the function of clothing and disguise in Catharine Maria Sedgwick's 1827 novel Hope Leslie or, Early Times in the Massachusetts . Through a careful examination of theorists and other critics of the novel, as well as close readings of the text, the paper investigates how Sedgwick uses clothing and disguise to comment on such categories as history, identity, and narrative. Ultimately, the paper argues that, through clothing and disguise, Hope Leslie challenges the existence of and reliance upon a reified view of the past by further arguing that the inability to determine another's identity based on outward appearances reveals a nuanced understanding of the category of history itself. Sedgwick's utilization of Puritan histories, her inclusion of strong Native American characters and their historical experiences, and the very structure of Hope Leslie 's narrative, all work in tandem with her focus on clothing and disguise to creative an alternative theory of history. Her alternative historical theory rests on ideas in favor of cultural inclusion, multiplicity of experience, and challenges to reified ideological structures.