English Literature Paper on The Literature of the Puritans

In the book titled “The Norton Anthology of American Literature,” William Bradford, John Winthrop, and Anne Bradstreet explore how the Puritans lived. The Puritans had created a community that was deeply rooted in the family which reflected their ecclesiastical identity. However, one aspect that stands out in the Puritan community in the New World is the fact that they were strongly patriarchal. That is, men held all the societal power from religion, politics to domestic spheres whereas women were expected to be wives and mothers only. The Puritan community was patriarchal because it was a social order that everyone had to adhere to, and this is analyzed below.

Bradford and Winthrop were both leaders in the Puritan community and a clear indication that the society was Patriarchal. Bradford was responsible for promoting the New World England through his governorship in Plymouth Colony. He had served for a period of thirty-three years during which he ensured that the people maintained social order by them playing their roles as set up in the society. In his book titled “Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford depicts a picture that helps the readers to understand the nature of New England as a patriarchal community. Through strong governorship, he ensured that the desire of the Puritan community to remain religious was possible (Bradford 130). As the governor, those who advised him were only men because the women had no place in the political arena. Notably, for the thirty-three years, there was no woman involved in the political area or economic development. The women would accompany the leaders to the meetings, but they were not expected to share their opinion regarding issues pertaining governance.

In regards to economic control, John Winthrop became the governor of Massachusetts Bay Company, employing more than one thousand settlers to work with the intention of improving the economy of Plymouth. All of the workers were only men, which is a clear indication that there was no place for women at the workplace in the Puritan community. At the same time, Winthrop belonged to the gentry class which only comprised of men and they mainly assumed the role and habit of commanding the society members especially the women and the poor people in the Puritan community. It means that apart from serving as the governor of such a large organization, he is also an example depicting that men controlled everything in Plymouth (Bradford 145). Winthrop also held the position of a magistrate in the society, which is also another way in which he managed both the political and economic sector. However, regardless of being a leader, Winthrop obeyed the social order by being a religious man and applied the principles of what he had learned.

Anne Bradstreet reveals the way in which the Puritan community was greatly male-dominated. As a woman who grew up in the Puritan community, she experienced and underwent through prejudice and discrimination, and she perfectly elaborates this in her poem titled “The Prologue.” Bradstreet reveals in the first stanzas of the poem that as a woman in a Puritan community, she was not allowed to discuss matters like “Wars, of Captains, and of Kings” (Bradstreet 219). The reason they were not allowed to do this is that the males considered the women to be foolish hence their opinions could not count on essential matters such as politics. Consequently, any woman who got involved in political issues was breaking the social order that united the community at large.

In the fifth stanza, Bradstreet explains the manner in which as a woman poet, she was much disgraced in the society because she was not playing her expected role of “wielding a needle” (Bradstreet 220). That is, people in the Puritan community did not appreciate the role that women were playing and the talent that they possessed. All that mattered most was for them to play their wife role rather than being in the spotlight trying to take part in economic development with their works. In the sixth stanza, the author explains the manner in which the Greeks together with the Bradstreet society failed to appreciate or exalt their women because they were ignored. According to her, it was a waste of women’s time trying to fight to occupy leadership positions because the society was set up that way.

In conclusion, the Puritan community was patriarchal as a result of the social order that had been established by the leaders. Everyone was thus expected to respect and hold their respective positions as a way to show their adherence to the set rules and regulations. In the Puritan community, women were subjected to domestic duties as they were barred from contributing to economic matters. The authors, Bradford, Winthrop, and Bradstreet, explain how the Puritan community was patriarchal by elaborating their personal experiences and the roles that they played during this period. As a leader, Bradford managed to control everything that was taking place in Plymouth for thirty three-years. Together with Winthrop, they managed to control the economy, political and social sectors of the Puritan community.



Works Cited

Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=o3wQDgAAQBAJ&pg=PR7&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

Bradstreet, Ann. The Prologue. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=o3wQDgAAQBAJ&pg=PR7&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false