Rowlandson’s Narrative

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Mary White’s family was among the original settlers of Lancaster, Massachusetts, arriving in 1653. In 1656 Mary White married Joseph Rowlandson, Lancaster's first minister. In 1675, the King Philip’s War began subjecting settlements to attack by Indians. On February 20, 1676, Indians abducted Mary Rowlandson during an attack on Lancaster. She was held captive for eleven weeks finally being ransomed for twenty pounds. After Rowlandson’s return, she recorded the account of her captivity as a narrative. Rowlandson’s narrative was published in 1682 under the title of The Soveraignty and Goodness of GOD, Together, With the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed and was republished that same year as A True History of the Captivity & Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (Dictionary of Literary Biography). In her graphic narrative, Rowlandson’s overall goal is to depict the white settlers as a pious people who are innocent victims of Indian brutality while characterizing the Indians as malicious, godless creatures who revel in their demonic actions.

The events leading up to the King Philip’s War are critical to understanding Rowlandson’s overall goal in her narrative. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Europeans and the Indians were still at peace due to the European traders needing fur from the Indians. By the middle of the century, a change in European fashion decreased the need for furs although the need for Indian fur still existed, the colonists’ desire for Indian land was increasing. Other problems for the Indians emerged as more colonists arrived in the New World such as colonists’ farm animals destroying Indian crops and a vast number of Indians dying due to the import of European disease. Other Cultural d...

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...ennsylvania State University, Angela Vietto, Pennsylvania State University, and Amy E. Winans, Susquehanna University. The Gale Group, 1999. 304-312. .

Rowlandson, Mary. “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 6th ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2003. 308-340.

Schultz, Eric and Tougias, Michael. King Philip’s War. Woodstock: The Countryman Press, 1999.

Woodard, Maureen L. FEMALE CAPTIVITY AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF RACE IN THREE EARLY AMERICAN TEXTS. Papers on Language & Literature, 0031-1294, March 1, 1996, Vol. 32, Issue 2.
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