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Kennedy Prashaw Mr. Reinhardt AP American Studies: U.

S History 9 January 2013 The Biased Yet Descriptive Writings of Eve LaPlante The life of Anne Hutchinson, a commonly forgotten female figure in history, is discussed by Eve LaPlante in the book, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson The Woman Who Defied the Puritans. LaPlante, a direct descendant of Hutchinson, recollects the life of the woman in the context of the early Massachusetts Bay Colony. The beginnings of the Massachusetts Bay settlement started with John Winthrop and the Puritans, another topic that LaPlante focuses her time on scraping away the surface of in her book. LaPlantes thesis concerning American Jezebel was simply to help her audience understand the life of Hutchinson as well as share her political and religious ideology of Hutchinson with an unbiased pen. Although LaPlante let her audience discover Hutchinson for themselves with her descriptive style of writing she also conveyed Hutchinson in a glorified light, and therefore did not support her thesis to the extent she intended. LaPlante shows what Hutchinson endured during treacherous trial for her thoughts and philosophy on religion and uses that as the focus of her book. The general public, at the time, viewed Hutchinson as either a pioneer or, as Winthrop the first governor of Massachusetts, put it, a Jezebel. At the time, a Jezebel was a much harsher insult than what it may mean in todays society. Jezebel was the worst traitor in biblical history and because of the religious dedication most people fostered during the early settlement of the Massachusetts Bay colony it was something no one dared to say. Winthrop, one of the most powerful and influential men in the

colony, had real credibility and led others to view Hutchinson as a Jezebel, a traitor to the religion that the colony was based on which was Puritanism. Puritans believed a specific doctrine that had many issues concerning on what women could and could not do. Hutchinson broke a lot of these rules and therefore was tried by a set of male, biased judges who eventually excommunicated her. They are the reason she fled to Rhode Island with her family later on in life, and ended up having a better life there. Hutchinson was a strong woman, and made it through the trials without getting too emotionally hurt, and any hurt she did encounter, she hid it very well on the exterior. She went through the whole trial without any legal help provided by the government in control because she was a woman and according to the Puritan decree, they didnt deserve an attorney or lawyer. LaPlante sympathizes too much with her relative. Being a descendant of Hutchinson, LaPlantes goal of being neutral was rather difficult. She writes in many added notes of what her opinion was on the trial and even more specifically, Hutchinsons responses to her attackers. Regarding Hutchinsons first recorded response to the persecutors of the trial, LaPlante gives a statement saying, They show her as she was, clever and undeterred. 1 LaPlante, while having valid evidence to support this claim throughout the book, uses an overgeneralization of how clever she actually was and does not back up her statement further than a sentence or two after Hutchinsons response in this section. Many times throughout this section, LaPlante repeats herself when it is simply unnecessary to do so. She underscores one of the most obvious facts of the trial, that Hutchinson was treated the way she was because she was a woman, several times throughout the book.

Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson the Woman who Defied the Puritans (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 13.

Comments such as, As a woman, she had no publicly sanctioned role, 2 appeared in numerous passages throughout the first chapter alone. This repetition may have been nice for some audiences for emphasis, but definitely tedious to others. It may have made the reader feel as though LaPlante was insulting their intelligence. LaPlantes repetition was so excessive that audiences could most likely feel the LaPlante checking to make sure the reader was comprehending the material too often. Given her extensive knowledge of the subject matter, it is assumed that this problem would have been very hard to avoid. She knew a great amount of information on the topic and wanted to present it to her readers, but also wanted them to be able to comprehend the vast amount of information. Overall, LaPlante does a wonderful job of drawing her audience to the facts of Hutchinson's life with extensive research that was clear to all readers. One impressive passage in this section was when LaPlante writes After her usual morning prayer, Scripture reading, and breakfast of corn mush (cornmeal with milk or molasses), baked apples or stewed pumpkin, and cider, Anne had set out with William for the Charlestown ferry, almost a mile from their house.
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LaPlante really dove into Hutchinsons daily life and humanized the historical figure in just one

sentence. There is so much information concerning the womans life in just that one little clause including her usual morning routine, what she had for breakfast day from day, and even how far Charlestown ferry was from her house. Some readers may not have enjoyed all of the facts that maybe could be seen as simply thrown in, but due to the smoothness of the writing, that idea is false.

Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson the Woman who Defied the Puritans (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 13. 3 Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson the Woman who Defied the Puritans (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 13.

LaPlante discusses in much detail the values of the Puritans and why the public viewed what Hutchinson did as wrong. Hutchinson would hold meetings in her home and in others in order to proceed in her questioning of the basic foundations of Puritanism. At the time, not only Puritanism was threatened, but in Winthrops opinion, the whole Massachusetts Bay Colony was at stake. This is why Hutchinsons teachings were so controversial. She was a brilliant iconoclast and sparked much desire for change. She even showed the colony the select members that were more adamant and would not budge in their values. Her questions and doubts as a Calvinist shook the community in a way, that LaPlante deems as something she was not aware of. LaPlantes style of being a simple and careful with using eloquent language was something that readers could relate to fantastically. She would write as she was telling the story of Hutchinson and the book did not appear to readers like she was writing a textbook, but rather a personal recollection of history. She was not trying to impress her readers with her ability to put Hutchinsons life in a complex way, for was rather straightforward. LaPlante writes about the common women and their reasons for leaving England by stating, Concern about their souls salvation was rarely far from their minds, particularly in light of the Puritan belief that salvation is not possible unless one was chosen by God before birth. 4 The language is very basic, yet she really analyzes the minds of not only Hutchinson, but the women around her and the woman she was trying to influence. Readers do not have many tasks when reading this book for deciphering the language of LaPlante is not difficult. By doing all the research she conducted, LaPlante was able to present the private memory of Hutchinson and her family to challenge the public memory. A common belief of Hutchinson is that she was not religious, but by reading this book, one can come to realize that is not the
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Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson the Woman who Defied the Puritans (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 45.

case. LaPlante portrays Hutchinson as a devoted Christian, writing passages such as, But as much as one could feel confident about her relationship with her Savior, Anne Hutchinson did. 5 LaPlante took on a difficult task of writing a book that challenged popular belief and triumphed. Getting deep into the context of Hutchinsons surroundings was powerful when it came to writing about just how Hutchinson influenced the community. LaPlante did not support her thesis fully by letting her audience discover Hutchinson with her descriptive style of writing but put Hutchinson on a pedestal. Hutchinson went through an awful and biased trial for her thoughts and philosophy on religion and LaPlante uses that as the center of her work. During the early settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, what women could and could not do was led by the strict doctrine of Puritanism. As a relative to Hutchinson, LaPlante rarely gives her readers an unbiased opinion on her life and repeats herself often without much reason for it. LaPlante does a her duty as an author of drawing her audience to the facts and story of Hutchinson's life by sharing her extensive research. The public viewed what Hutchinson questioned as wrong and LaPlante does a terrific job of discussing the ideology of not only Hutchinson, but those she was trying to influence. Audiences appreciated her simple sentence structure which was easy to follow and kept the reader focused. LaPlante was able to challenge the public memory of Hutchinson by all the research she conducted and she is the epitome of what hard work in a certain field can accomplish.

Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson the Woman who Defied the Puritans (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 46.