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Puritan Literature Notes

Notes over their background, writing, and authors
by

Jenny Mercer

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of Puritan Literature Notes

Puritan Literature Beginnings - Characteristics of their Writing Puritan Authors John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity Excerpt -Puritans emigrating to America caused literary shift
The Plymouth Colony in 1620 ("Pilgrims")
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630
-New experiences and a new environment
-Motivated by religion and specific beliefa • Strenuous and serious

• Attempts to represent life truly

• Every event represents a double reality

o The event as a natural occurrence

o The event as a significant message from God

• Bible provided model – individual life is a “journey to salvation.” Connections between Biblical events and their own lives

• Used writing to explore their inner and outer lives for signs of God’s work

• Diaries and histories most common

• Plain style stressed clear expression and avoided complicated figures of speech Characteristics (cont.) • Common themes

o Idealism – both religious and political

o Pragmatism – practicality and purposiveness

• Style of writing

o Protestant – against ornateness; reverence for the Bible

o Purposive – there was a purpose to Puritan writing – to transform a mysterious God, to make God more relevant to the universe, and to glorify God

o Puritan writing reflected the character and scope of the reading public, which was literate and well-grounded in religion William Bradford
March 19, 1590 – May 9, 1657
Puritan
Separatist leader of Plymouth colony
Wrote "Of Plymouth Plantation"
Authority to designate our holiday of thanks giving

Jonathan Edwards
October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758
Puritan
Christian preacher and theologian, considered among the most influential in American history
He is known for his “evangelist” sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

Anne Bradstreet
1612 – September 16, 1672
Puritan
First published English-North-American Colony poet and female writer in general to be published
Published multiple anthologies
Used often-sarcastic poetry to express her disapproval towards the prejudice against women in Puritan society Puritan Authors (Cont.) Cotton Mather
February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728
Puritan
Minister, Author and Pamphleteer
Known to have been partly responsible for the Salem Witch Trials

John Winthrop
2 January 1587 or 1588 – 26 March 1649
Puritan
A founder (and later governor) of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Known for his sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” "God Almighty in his most holy and wise providence hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, that in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high, and eminent in power and dignity, other mean and in subjection...Yet we must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality. We must delight in each other make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace... We must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, in so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God,...Shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us." Puritan Beliefs "a model church-state"
A government run by religious officials
One building served as the church, courthouse, and town meetinghouse
Located at the center of town: symbolically represented that it was the "anchor" of the town
Thus, everyone was to gravitate towards the center of town Puritan Beliefs "Learning" was a way to reach salvation; thus, education was highly valued
The New England Primer was the first textbook used
"Lesson books" were popular
Knowledge was a person's best defense against the evil and devil
Puritans founded our country's first college - Harvard Puritan Beliefs Bible Puritans took the Bible literally
They tried to justify their actions based on Biblical passages
"The Bible made me do it" attitude
All of society was to conform (go along with) to the teachings of the Bible Education Puritan Beliefs Extremists The Puritans had a "Black and White" mentality - there was no gray area
Good vs. Evil, Heaven vs. Hell, Right vs. Left Puritan Beliefs Intolerance This is a self-righteous, bigoted attitude
Outsiders had to keep a low profile
Puritans killed many Native Americans tribes because of their heathen attitudes Puritan Beliefs Offspring Religions Many people became disenchanted with the Puritanism - partly because of their seemingly hypocritical attitude
Although they wanted to keep the basics of Puritan doctrine, some people broke away from this denominations
As these people moved westward, offspring religions were created:
Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Unitarian, and Quaker all emerged Puritan Beliefs Predestination A person does not choose his own destiny
God decides whether or not a person goes to heaven
He has a "chosen" few who automatically go to heaven Puritan Beliefs Salvation Personal salvation depends solely on the grace of God and not on individual effort
The only way a person could know that he is saved was by directly experiencing God's grace in a religious conversion
Remember - education and the Bible will help people reach salvation Theocracy Puritan Beliefs Total Depravity Man is completely evil due to the fall of Adam
[We] must suffer the sins of Adam for all eternity
The total ruin of man's nature (body and soul)
Puritan children were reminded of this on a daily basis - "In Adam's fall, we sinned all" is the alphabet rhyme used in the New England Primer Puritan Beliefs Unconditional Election God only has chosen or elected a few to go to heaven
The elected will receive mercy and the reprobate (not elected) receive justice
No free will
Destiny determined by God
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