Puritan literature in America

puritans
•group of protestants who wish to purify the Church of England
•believed religion was a “personal yet inner experience” clergy or government could come between you and God
•suffered persecution in England
•small group led by William Bradford came to the new world in 1620.

beliefs
•humanity “damned” by sin of Adam and Eve
• select few to be saved. identified by saintly behavior, they were “reborn”
•values: self-reliance, hard-working, moderation, and simple living

politics
•contract or covenant between God and humanity
•contract between people and government stems from that idea
•rather undemocratic-felt that the “saintly elect” should have great influence in politics

characteristics in Puritan writing
•bible provided model-individual life is a “journey to salvation”. connections between biblical events and own lives
•used writing to explore inner & outer lives for signs of God’s work
•diaries and histories most common
•plain style stressed clear expression and avoided complicate figures of speech

William Bradford
•1590-1657
•famous work: of Plymouth plantation
•described hardships of journey to new world; unshakable belief in God
•plain style writing- few figures of speech or metaphors

Mary rowlandson
•1638-1678
•famous work: a narrative of captivity
•story of capture by native Americans; endured many hardships
•saw her story as a reflection of bible stories of hardship-used allusions to biblical stories

Anne Bradstreet
•1612-1672
•famous work:the tenth muse
•explorers religion and personal relationship with God
•differed from other Puritan writers-use of simple yet educated vocabulary, deep faith, lyrical and easy to read.

Edward taylor
•1642-1729
•famous work: poetical works of Edward Taylor
•explored how his identity was shaped by “Gods grace”
•Puritan sermons in poetic form
•differed in that he used metaphorical comparisons-first to try American poetry

Jonathan edwards
•1703-1758
•fire and brimstone imagery
•helped bring about the great awakening
•tyrannical pastor- extreme & strict- humans “lowly sinners”
•the last puritan

Nathaniel Hawthorne
•1804-1864
•descendent of Puritans in Salem witch trials
•wrote many stories and novels
•strong use of symbolism and imagery strong religious views
• The Scarlet Letter was most famous work

Revolutionary period-
Characteristics of literature:
•political writings
•writings formed the budding American identity
•satire used in popularity
•song & poems in common were “yankeedoodle”
•the key figures included:
-Benjamin Franklin
-Thomas Pain