The Pilgrims and the Pilgrim Mystique

5427 Words22 Pages
The Pilgrims and the Pilgrim Mystique - A Blend of Myth, Fiction, and History [1] At the conclusion of the film Plymouth Adventure, the Pilgrims, physically and mentally, have withstood the rigors of persecution in their homeland, of the long and difficult voyage, and of their first year in the wild, desolate New World. Ultimately, this paradigm becomes the emblem of the founding of our nation and the beginning of a whole panorama of different versions each time the story is retold--some of them factual and some of them mythical. The purpose of this essay is to: 1) survey the scope of the Pilgrim mystique; 2) sort myth from fact in the story; 3) pinpoint the sources of the information we have about these settlers; 4) establish why this group was chosen rather than any of a myriad of settlers who came to the New World, both before and after the Pilgrims; and 5) finally, and most importantly, determine whether the facts about the Pilgrims have been misrepresented, distorted, or simply omitted in the film based on Gebler's book, The Plymouth Adventure: A Chronicle Novel of the Voyage of the Mayflower, and the two most reliable accounts we have of the Pilgrims' story, William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation and Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Scope of the Pilgrim Mystique [2] If one were to ask the man on the street to recite the story of the Pilgrims, it would go something like this: These religious people wanted to worship as they pleased, so they left England and came to America; the voyage was hard and many of them died, but with the help of Squanto they were able to raise crops the next Spring and Summer. They had a bountiful harvest, and in the Fall they invited the Indians to join them in a thanksgiving feast where they served roasted wild turkey. Their strong religious faith and trust in God's providence were the main reasons they prospered in the New World. Quite likely these two facts would not be mentioned: the Pilgrims were a separate group from the Puritans, and the Plymouth Colony failed to obtain a charter and ultimately became a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692. Also absent from the recital would be the fact that Plymouth, the poor but proud capital of the Pilgrim Colony, sank to the status of a not-very-important county seat, its interests shrinking to a radius of a few miles and the scale of its affairs lessening accordingly (Willison 408).
Open Document