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Introduction to Puritan Literature

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Morgan Martin

on 25 September 2017

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Transcript of Introduction to Puritan Literature

Introduction to Puritan Literature
Puritan Values
Single-minded visionaries convinced of the rightness of their strict religious beliefs
Very practical and businesslike
Simple and frugal way of life with few possessions
Frowned on distractions - entertainment, etc.
Many historians feel Puritan ethics of thrift, hard work, and self-sufficiency contributed to the success of the New World
Could be why the U.S. became such a hardworking nation and leader in the world
Puritan Beliefs
All people born sinners
Believed only an "elect" group saved and sent to Heaven
Predestinated - already determined by God
Difficult to know for certain if one were part of the "elect"
Hard work, devoutness, and good behavior were signs of being part of "elect"
Scrutinized daily lives for signs
Emphasized that hard work not only produces wealth, but also strong moral character
Reading the Bible was a necessity for all Puritans
Believed in demons and evil - even witchcraft
Believed the devil walked among them
Puritan Literature
Bible served as a model
Made direct connections between Biblical events and their lives
Used writing to explore and scrutinize their inner and outer lives for signs of the workings of God
Diaries, letters, and historical accounts were most common forms of expression
Described feelings/experiences in daily life
Frowned on creative expression
The Puritan Migration
Puritans did not agree with new direction the Church of England was taking
Believed King had corrupted it
Persecuted for beliefs
Restricted from practicing religion as they wished
Imprisonment, beatings, exile
Gruesome execution - hanging, drowning, burning, disembowelment
Holy Wars
Fled England for Holland and, ultimately, North America to purify the church and create a "City Upon a Hill"
Values in Literature
Predestination - signs of salvation
Strong work ethic
Literacy and education
Community effort not individualism
Man's inherent sinfulness
God's omnipotence
Wilderness as the devil's province
Saw nature as God's creation but feared disorder and unknown of the frontier
Viewed Native Americans as savages
Favored plain style
short words, direct statements, references to ordinary objects
Thought God's workings were to be found in everyday things and events
Stressed clarity of expression and avoided complicated figures of speech
Believed anything that appealed to senses or emotions was too worldly and dangerous
What's the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans?
1620 Mayflower expedition
Approx. 100 English people
Mostly working class
Poor, uneducated
SEPARATISTS - gave up hope on reforming Church of England, so wanted to separate and start their own churches
Settled in Plymouth
Led by William Bradford
Elected leaders to office
Similar to democracy
Treated each as equals
More tolerant of others
Friendly with Native Americans
Paid them for land
Went to Massachusetts
Sought religious freedom
Wore similar, though not exactly the same, plain clothing
Lived separately but cooperated with each other
1629 Arabella expedition
Approx. 1,000 English people
Mostly upper-middle class
Educated, literate
PURISTS - wished to purify the church, eradicate corruption and traces of Catholicism
Settled in Massachusetts Bay
Led by John Winthrop
Elected leaders to office
Theocracy - religious gov.
Treated as divine authority
Intolerant of others
Conflicts with Native Americans
Seized land from them
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