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Anne Bradstreet vs. Mary Rowlandson Comparison

Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson are American Puritan writers of the 17th century who focused their works on the individual, real-life aspects which were influenced by their spiritual development of personality and religious involvement. This period in literature was primarily associated with the religious influence on writers’ lives by focusing on the spiritual factors that individuals affected each author’s life experience. This paper is aimed to analyze the characteristics of Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson as Puritan writers referring to their works: the story “To my dear children” by Anne Bradstreet and a story “A narrative of the captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” by Mary Rowlandson.

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In the story “A narrative of the captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” Mary Rowlandson describes her personal life experience and the impact of religion on the particular life aspects during the narration. The same topic was chosen by Anne Bradstreet in the story “To my dear child” by outlining the role of God in her personal experience and self-development. The main specification in the narration which makes these two authors similar in terms of literary characteristics is the fact that both of them write within the aspects of religion.

They focus on its impact, help, and hope experienced by both of them but under different life conditions and challenges. Puritanism in American literature is represented as a significant religious impact on writers’ works through the purification of the church (Bross and Van Engen 15). It is believed that the Puritan authors are those who succeeded in directing their lifestyle based on the outlined Biblical values and norms. Referring to this assumption, such writers as Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson tend to present their works, including the idea of the spiritual role in personal experience and practices during day-to-day life.

Both stories “To my dear children” and “A narrative of the captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” are defined as the puritan literary work. The reason for this statement is due to the authors’ intention to describe the real-life events through the lance of the religious point of view. Analysis of these two works provides a clear understanding of how Bradstreet and Rowlandson follow all regulations outlined by the church and accept God’s blessing and support despite any problems faced during their lives. For instance, Bradstreet describes the “evils” faced by her in childhood and comes to the conclusion that she “could not be at rest till by prayer” that she “confessed unto God” (Elliott et al. 246). It can be noticed in the narration style and the way how they reflect the religious impact on their individual life events.

The life experience of writers can be considered similar since both of them found their relief in God’s hands after the years of struggling and overcoming the challenges faced on their path. Bradstreet assumes that God directed her over their life and “joined to the church” (Elliott et al. 246). At the same time, Rowlandson comes to the assumption that “The Lord hereby would make us the more acknowledge His hand, and to see that our help is always in Him” (Elliott et al. 270) outlined in her story.

The differences between literary style and narration’s mood can be identified based on the analysis of works written by Bradstreet and Rowlandson. On the one hand, Bradstreet primarily aims to highlight the role of God’s blessing and values provided by the church in human life: “I have had great experience of God’s hearing my prayers and returning comfortable answers to me” (Elliott et al. 247). She tells about the challenges experienced during the particular life periods related to the events, such as her immigration to the new country, health issues, and the deaths of people loved.

The writer states that she was able to overcome all of these problems with God’s help and his role in her destiny by addressing her thoughts to the children: “If at any time you are chastened of God, take it as thankfully and joyfully as in greatest mercies, for if ye be His, ye shall reap the greatest benefit by it” (Elliott et al. 247). Bradstreet, in her narration, tries to express her feelings and talk about the challenges she overcame by focusing on the spiritual presence in her destiny and how it has affected her life values.

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On the other hand, Rowlandson mostly focuses on personal discussion and evaluation of the events described in the story considering the conclusions that she made in those circumstances. Similarly, she has experienced significant life challenges on her path and understood the importance of God’s role in her destiny: “I have thought since of the wonderful goodness of God to me in preserving me in the use of my reason and senses in that distressed time” (Elliott et al. 273).

The writer described her history when she was imprisoned by the Indians, considering all fears and troubles she faced in those conditions. She concludes that God helped them to avoid death at that moment: “yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive” (Elliott et al. 270). In addition, Rowlandson mentions her weaknesses in front of the close death providing criticism to that event by outlining her feelings and thoughts, which confronted her actual beliefs.

However, regardless of the mismatches in literary style and the way of the story-telling, both Bradstreet and Rowlandson are highly influenced by the Puritan historical period and, as a result, try to promote beliefs, love, and mercy based on their faith in God’s power. Their works include “women’s experiments in nation-building” since they tried to rise against the gender differences in society (Derounian-Stodola 250). Moreover, some works would not be published without the help of men who introduced and published some literary pieces on their behalf.

Bradstreet and Rowlandson, who experienced dramatic challenges and sufferings, draw readers’ attention toward the idea of religious and spiritual support and grace provided by God. Despite the differences in stylistic issues and literary narrative approaches, the idea and motivation of their works remain the same which can be explained by the historical influence of the Puritan movement. Both authors consider that their privileged goal is to focus readers’ evaluation and thoughts on the religious presence and significance in personal development and life events.

According to their beliefs, with God’s mercy, it is possible to overcome any difficulties faced in life circumstances resulting in the spiritual development of personality. Bradstreet and Rowlandson propose the importance of analysis and discussions of events in order to outline the lessons derived by the Lord and apply these conclusions to further religious growth and faith.

Works Cited

Bross, Kristina, and Abram Van Engen, editors. A History of American Puritan Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Devonian-Stodola Kathryn. Bodies of Work: Early American Women Writers, Empire, and Pedagogy. Women’s Narratives of the Early Americas and the Formation of Empire. Edited by Balkun, Mary, and Imbarrato Susan, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp. 249-250.

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Elliott, Michael, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Edited by Levine, Robert, W.W. Norton & Company, 2016, pp. 246-301.

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