Overview: The Captivity Narrative by Mary Rowlandson Essay

Overview: The Captivity Narrative by Mary Rowlandson Essay

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As the first female non poetry work in puritan America, Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative can be read from different angles of vision. It can be read as an encouragement for other women who followed her to write stories of their captivity. But on the other hand it can be read in a way that it only reinforced the system of the patriarchal community in which it was written. It also stressed the fact that the puritans were the chosen people of god and that the natives were impure creatures.
The captivity narrative as an autobiographical story is a genre of literature that began with Mary Rowlandson’s publication of “The Sovereignty of and Goodness of God” in 1682. It tells the true events of her captivity by the Indians with her three children during King Philip’s war in Massachusetts. In this case her work inspired more literature that focused on the capture of the white settlers most commonly women and children.
It served as a moral lesson for the community and played an important role in the development of the American culture. Although, it would be very hard to determine how much of her bitterness is the result of her experience and how much is simply cultural conditioning. This can for sure be attributed to her language describing the Indians as”bloody heathens, infidels, barbarous creatures, savages, pagans, enemy, merciless heathens…” (Rowlandson 308). Although, she was not at all treated with the same brutality as her fellow peers and in several stances through her narrative served more humane as would any other savage not do. Even with the death of her daughter Sarah, these savages as she prefers to call them they buried her “I took the first opportunity I could to look after my dead child. When I cam...


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... express herself more as “Neither submissive nor despondent in dealing with her captors, she presents herself as defiant and calculating, resilient and self-reliant”(Fitzpatrick 12). This for sure is to give her more agency rather than remaining the prototype of the submissive woman which is highly cherished by the puritan community. On her return back after the eleven week captivity the focus is more to be on Mary Rowlandson’s survival and agency alone which is to come into conflict with the puritan patriarchal system.



Works Cited

Fitzpatrick, Tara. "The Figure of Captivity: The Cultural Work of the Puritan Captivity Narrative." American Literary History 3:1 (1991): 1-26.


Rowlandson, Mary. "Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs.
Mary Rowlandson." Early American Writings. Ed. Carla Mulford. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2002. pp. 307-328.

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