The Concept of Woman in Roger Malvin’s Burial Essay

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The Concept of Woman in “Roger Malvin’s Burial” John Erskine in Leading American Novelists says that “Roger Malvin’s Burial” is “the most powerful story, morally, of the Mosses from an Old Manse” (236). And what makes it so powerful? A very vital woman character by the name of Dorcas is key to the narrative-producing decision by Reuben to leave Roger to die alone. Dorcas is also key to the guilt preserved within the main character, Reuben, which leads to his growing into an irritable personality. Likewise she is key to the strong familial bond of love which is broken asunder by Reuben’s accidental killing of Cyrus, thus effecting a spiritual transformation or redemption of the protagonist. Q. D. Leavis in…show more content…
. . .” (McPherson 68-69). McPherson’s “inward sphere” is the key to understanding the role of women in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Roger Malvin’s Burial.” The short story opens with an explicit, lengthy reference to an historical battle between savage Indians and colonial frontiersmen: “One of the few incidents of Indian warfare naturally susceptible of the moonlight of romance was that expedition undertaken for the defense of the frontiers in the year 1725. . . .” From the historical perspective the narrative shifts to two survivors of the battle who, wounded and exhausted, are making a trek homeward. The “severe wound of the elder man,” Roger Malvin, causes him to think that “his pilgrimage was at an end,” so he asks his younger companion, Reuben, to go on without him, saying that ``this rock beneath which we sit will serve for an old hunter's gravestone.” Reuben protests, but Roger is insistent: “I will no longer burden you with my useless body.” Reuben offers to dig two graves so that “we will rest together,” but Roger appeals to his concern for his girlfriend, who is Roger’s daughter, Dorcas: “Tarry not, then, for a folly like this, but hasten away, if not for your own sake, for hers who will else be desolate.'' What was the effect upon Reuben of the mere mention of

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