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American Literature

Think about the three readings for this week -- readings from three different viewpoints: Pilgrim
(William Bradford), Anglican (Thomas Morton), and Puritan (John Winthrop). How do these
three perspectives support or contradict your vision of the founding of America?

Pilgrims
o Separatists. Came to escape persecution and for religious freedom.
Anglicans
o Seemed to come mostly for industry and trade.
Puritans
o Came to spread their religion.

A Comparison of Pilgrims,
Anglicans, and Puritans

Perspectives Support My Vision


No particular society solely founded
America; hence, the country is a melting pot
of many diverse cultures and peoples. Even
today, one can see traces of different
traditions from unique lands. Look at city
names, for example. One will see names
such as Canterbury, Cornwall, Sussex, and
Windsor. All of those towns and cities were
obviously heavily influenced by English
culture. Examples of French and Spanish
town names include Baton Rouge,
Lafayette, Boca Raton, and Santa Fe.
Similarly, the selections from the Pilgrim,
Puritan, and Anglican perspective support
the melding of cultures that I believe forms
the backbone of American diversity.

The American spirit is a combination of the


attitudes and beliefs of Americas founders.
Trusting in God to sustain them, and with a
strong survivalist ethic, the Pilgrims sought
a new beginning, free from religious
tyranny. What could now sustain them but
the spirit of God and his grace? wrote
William Bradford in Of Plymouth
Plantation. Also survivors, the Puritans set
themselves apart as self-sufficient builders
of a new society. In fact, they sought to
figuratively and literally build a City upon
a hill, as noted in John Winthrops A
Model of Christian Charity. The Anglicans,
on the other hand, were much more
business-minded. Their intent to profit
commercially often conflicted with the
Pilgrims independent and self-sustaining
way of life. In Thomas Mortons description
in New English Canaan of one such
conflict, he asserted that the Pilgrims wanted
to be rid of upon any terms their Anglican
neighbors. As evidenced by the Anglicans
competitive and commerce-based nature, the

self-sustaining Pilgrims, and the


independent spirit of the Puritans, America
is truly a mosaic made stronger by the
various cultures who founded it.

Puritan Literature
A Narrative of the Captivity and
Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson was
a best seller because it was entertaining,
suspenseful, thrilling, and very well written.
Through Rowlandsons vivid diction, a
reader could easily become absorbed in the
story, feeling as though he were actually
there. She carries the reader through her
adventures, describing in graphic detail each
leg of the journey. Unlike pure fiction, this
chronicle did not come from someones
imagination, which made it even more
gripping. Who doesnt want to read a good
adventure tale?
This Indians described in Rowlandsons
narrative were savage, evil animals. She
variously referred to them as bloody
Heathen, Infidels, and black creatures.
Describing a ceremony as a lively
resemblance of hell, she clearly believed
the Indians were minions of Satan. As she
detailed her captivity in painstaking
imagery, she affirmed the general Puritan
view of Native Americans as savages.

the more to acknowledge his hand, and to


see that our help is always in him, was the
theme of her work. As she journeyed with
the Indians, throughout all her travails, she
continued to believe that Gods purpose was
to convince her of his omnipotence. Another
belief displayed was that of Gods goodness.
Even after losing her young child,
Rowlandson wrote, I have thought since of
the wonderfull [sic] goodness of God to me,
in preserving me in the use of my reason and
senses. Given the theme of deliverance by a
merciful, all-powerful God, the narrative
was very definitely a Puritan work of
literature.
Rowlandsons unshakable faith in God, even
in the midst of horror and extreme
circumstances, was ultimately what brought
her home. She considered killing herself
after her little child died, but credited God
that she then did not use wicked and violent
means to end my own miserable life. Again
and again, she was brought back from the
brink of despair, as she recounted
comforting Scriptures throughout her time
of captivity. Had she lost faith, she
undoubtedly would have lost her life, most
likely by ending it herself. Instead she kept
her eyes fixed on God, and made it back
home to what was left of her family.

Puritan beliefs permeate Rowlandsons


narrative. The Lord hereby would make us

Submitted by Mical Teshay