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Purtian Men and Women in Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet Essay

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Purtian Men and Women in Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet


Crossing the Atlantic, Puritans faced not only the physical hardships of an uncultivated land, but also difficulties within the structure of their religion. In "The Puritan Dilemma," Edmund Morgan details the contradicting tenets of Puritanism. Puritans were to seek salvation even though they were “helpless to do anything but evil”; they were to rely entirely on Christ for salvation even though salvation was only possible if preordained by God (7). Additionally, in the Puritan paradigm, the relationship between Christ and the church was analogous to that of husband and wife. Husbands took pre-eminence over wives, just as Christ reigned supreme over His flock. This layered system of servants and masters caused men and women to experience Puritanism very differently. The poetry of Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet demonstrates that while Puritan men focused on pleasing their Heavenly Father, Puritan women sought the approval of earthly men.

Studying female authorship in colonial America, William Scheick notes that Puritans supported this attitude of subordination with Biblical passages. In the Old Testament, Adam declares Eve the bone of his bones and the flesh of his flesh. Because “she was taken out of man,” Adam resolves on calling her “woman.” Similarly, in the New Testament, Paul describes Christians as “members of [the Lord’s] body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Whereas the Genesis passage refers to earthly matrimony, Paul addresses the spiritual marriage between Christians and the Bridegroom Christ. Scheick observes how these passages imply “the silent subordination of the second sex to men, [and] the reverence wives owe to their husbands” (62)....


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...ism in early New England.


Works Cited

Bradstreet, Anne. “The Prologue [To Her Book].” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lautier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004: 188-190.

Hambrick-Stowe, Charles E., ed. Early New England Meditative Poetry. New York: Paulist Press, 1988.

Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1958.

Stanford, Ann. “Anne Bradstreet: Dogmatist and Rebel.” The New England Quarterly 39 (1966): 373-389. JSTOR. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. 3 Oct. 2005 .

Taylor, Edward. “Prologue.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lautier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004: 239-240.

---, “Huswifery.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lautier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004: 236-237.


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