Literature has a lot of different aims: to entertain, to inform, and to convince. The works of Judith Sargent Murray, Samson Occom, and Phillis Wheatley are very convincing, as they try to implement their ideas in society about religion and gender.
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Judith Sargent Murray is an American writer whose literary career appeared on the highest level in the 1790s. The focus of her interest was nationalism, governmental systems, the problem of equality of man and woman, and religious universalism (Murray, p. 554). Dwelling upon the topic of equality of genders we may read “our souls are by nature equal to yours; the same breath of God animates, enlivens, and invigorates us” (Murray, p. 558).
Samson Occom was an African-American slave he should have been uneducated, but being introduced to Christian studies, he learned to read and to write thanks to his desire to read Bible. Religion helped him to assimilate into the American population (Occom, 520). His interest in religion had changed him, he “found serenity and pleasure of soul, in serving God” (Occom, p. 522).
Phillis Wheatley is an African, who was sold to an American Christian family when she was 7. Being raised in a religious family she was imbued with Christian thought from her very childhood.
Comparing the voices of these three authors it is very important to understand the issues which influenced their lives. Being conducted in religious families, Wheatley and Occom’s works are devoted to the Christian themes. Wheatley’s works, such as “To His Excellency General Washington” (p. 577) and “To the University of Cambridge, in New England” (p. 578) are not purely religious, but the theme of God is also touched there. Occom’s prose is also filled with religion as he describes his life, where religion played a big role. Murray also turned to religion, but her main consideration was sex relations, she tried to convince people that genders should be leveled and that the domination in her modern world was not so significant, moreover, it was unnecessary in her poem “On the Equality of the Sexes” (p.555).
The vocabulary in the works of these poets has some similarities, as the theme of God is touched in all of them. Even Murray in her poem “On the Equality of the Sexes” writes that
The torpid spirit mingling with its clod,
Can scarcely boast its origin from God. (Murray, p. 556).
But the language differs greatly. Occom’s language is very simple, the constructions of his sentences are not overburdened with different subordinate clauses and other syntax structures. Murray’s language is more complicated but at the same time, it is richer. She uses a lot of stylistic devices, such as metaphors and similes to give the reader a more vivid understanding of what she is reading about.
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Considering the conditions of publications, Wheatley’s works were written according to neoclassical norms, but they were not accepted. She published her works several times but the reason they were not appreciated was her belonging to the African race, she was black (Wheatley, p. 570). But was not the border for her and she managed to gain success with her poems. Murray was taken in the written society at once. Her poetical contribution to the Massachusetts Magazine was appreciated. Occom has been working all his life for the benefit of the Church. He published only two of his works, “A Sermon Preached by Samson Occom” and “Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs”, which appeared to be the bestsellers.
Different authors have different aims, and they want to reach these aims with the help of society that supports them and who are interested in their works.
- Judith Sargent Murray in the Heath Anthology of American Literature – Concise Edition by Paul Lauter, pp. 554-560.
- Samson Occom. in the Heath Anthology of American Literature – Concise Edition by Paul Lauter, pp. 520-526.
- Phillis Wheatley. in the Heath Anthology of American Literature – Concise Edition by Paul Lauter, pp. 569-579.