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The Role of Women in the 17th Century

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In 17th century Euro-America Puritan society believed that men played a patriarchal role upon women, and that this role was instituted by God and nature. The seniority of men over women lay within both the household and the public sphere. The household, immediate family living in the same dwelling was subject to the male as head figure of the house. The public sphere also known as the social life within the Puritan community consisted of two echelons. These echelons consisted of formal and informal public. The formal public consisted of woman and indentured servants. Women were to stay within the informal public and stay in the shadows of the men. The government held large ties with the church in the 17th century. Though women were subordinates by both the eye of the church and the government, women found ways to express authority both intentionally and unintentionally. Women began to act independently of patriarchal society and their roles in society’s sphere. Economic, social, and religious patterns were determining factors for women’s roles.

History has identified many women from the 17th century of who have had different experiences when voicing their beliefs and making a step out of their echelon within society’s social sphere. Among these women are Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Rowlandson. Both women held significant importance within their time period during the 17th century. Both women were similar in social status, both middle class, well educated women. They were trying to make ends meet within their situations that were framed by the informal public in the New England Colonies. It is evident that evolution of time also frames the experiences between the two women.

Anne Hutchinson, of Massachusetts Bay, was ...

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...e Hutchinson, Rowlandson speaks of her personal relationship with God, except she does about it in a different matter. Perhaps she had learned from the trial and prior knowledge of Anne Hutchinson. Rowlandson turned to the bible for means of comfort. She compared herself to Daniel in the Lion’s den, Job, to the Israelites. She makes her relations with God through parallels of scripture. It is at God’s mercy and will of grace that she experienced all that she has during her captivity. By quoting the Bible verses she emphasizes her faith and knowledge. She makes clear faith’s vital position within her life. Her own story becomes a parabolic tale of faith. It wasn’t her intention to publish her story. Her story was disclosed into the public, the formal public sphere, only by the approval of ministers in 1682 due to high regards to her spiritual experience.