Anne Bradstreet and the Puritan Community

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In 1630, John Winthrop delivered his sermon “A Model of Christianity” on a boat filled with eager passenger’s longing for a new way of life, and on their way to the new world. In this sermon, Winthrop, who would eventually become governor of New England, outlined and set up what the ideals of Puritanism would entail and conveyed to his “noble flock” the notion of what they as a people would represent. “The Lord make it like that of of New England. For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.” (158) Winthrop suggested that the eyes of the world would be on the passengers of the Arabella to set the example of “good” Christian behavior. He advocated the notions of hard work, fellowship, and community, and held these qualities in the upmost regard in building this “City upon a hill” community. He preached the ideology of Puritanism to a congregation of peoples breaking free from the hypocrisy and popery that religion represented in their previous life. In outlining the ideals of Puritanism, Winthrop considered three essential components; firstly a grace vs. works mentality, which made the individual achievement of grace impossible (grace was only given by God), secondly a typology indicating Gods presence in all events, and thirdly the idea of total depravity, which stated that all humans are born with original sin and in essence are all damned to hell. With this spiritual foundation in place, Winthrop and his newly formed community of Puritans established themselves, and embodied the outline of Christianity as presented. Though this seemingly utopian community did indeed succeed in many ways, it is also important to consider the individuals’ within the community who would have as well had a say in the construct of suc... ... middle of paper ... ...ized spirituality. If one presumes that Bradstreet didn’t intend on publication of her work, one must also understand that her work may be the foreground of progressive thought, which we see later historically, as the individual’s importance in the interpretation of spirituality becomes stressed. Perhaps, Bradstreet’s poems were a private contemplation and examination of herself in a society that she lived in but didn’t necessarily agree with. Perhaps her poems really are meant to directly criticize Winthrop’s “city on a hill mentality.” Whatever the case may be, the massage of contradiction becomes relevant in addressing her work and is something to fully consider while reading her words. Works Cited Franklin, Wayne, Philip F. Gura, and Arnold Krupat. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 7th ed. Vol. A. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.
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