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From Kathryn Whitford's "Hannah Dustin: The Judgement of History," p. 323.

From Kathryn Whitford's "Hannah Dustin: The Judgement of History," p. 323.

. . . In a way, Hannah and Thomas Dustin came to epitomize the two commonest border stories--one, that of the Indian captivity and deliverance, the other, that of the successful defender of family and fort. Had their roles been reversed their story might never have attracted more than local attention. But as the role of woman and mother was softened and sentimentalized during the nineteenth century, a century which defended its rejection of women's rights not only on the ground that women were naturally inferior of body and intellect, but with the positive pronouncement that women were too pure, too spiritual, for a wicked world and had therefore to be protected for their own good and that of the nation whose conscience they enshrined, Hannah Dustin became an increasingly embarrassing national heroine.

In consequence, her chroniclers, all men and increasingly removed from the frontier, show a tendency to enlarge the figure of Thomas Dustin or to add some derogatory judgement of Hannah. Though Mather told Thomas Dustin's story, Hannah's exploit clearly dominated his narrative. Sewall did not mention Thomas Dustin, but Dwight gave him equal importance with his wife. Although Whittier and Thoreau almost ignore him, Hawthorne writes not about Hannah but "the Duston Family" and ends by comparing Hannah's conduct unfavorably with that of her husband. . . .

Source: Whitford, Kathryn. "Hannah Dustin: The Judgement of History." Essex Institute Historical Collections Vol. CVIII, No. 4 (October 1972): 304-325.

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11894/

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