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The Intro to the Sinners, Scandals, and Lies Unit

Elizabeth Spicer

on 1 September 2016

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Transcript of Puritans

The Puritans
How do they relate to AP English?
Who were they?
What did they think?
Essential Background Info for the Sinners, Scandals, and Lies Unit
Put on your Puritan hat...
Religious Beliefs
Puritan Poetry
*wanted to purify the Church of England from the influence of the Catholic Church
*movement grew after the Protestant Reformation (Puritans believed that the break
from Catholicism in 1535 didn't go far enough; the new church just substituted the
authority of the King for the authority of the Pope)
*came over from England in the early 1600s to establish a new holy land
Cultural Values
1. Education
*believed that scholarship was a principle of salvation (you must be literate to read the Bible, after all).
*taught all members of society, not just children of the upper class
*created the first textbooks in America (the New England Primer)
*established the first "Free Grammar School" in the colonies
1. original sin
2. predestination
2. Simplicity
3. Hard Work
*Religious authority is founded only in Scripture, not by a title granted by the government (king or pope).
*followers of the teachings of Calvin
*God is all-powerful and wrathful.
*Their lives were lived as simply as possible, allowing them to focus on Heaven not earthly pleasures.
*practiced intense introspection, in the attempt to come to an awareness of one's own spiritual state
*no holiday or birthday celebrations
*no dancing
*no elaborate dress, decoration, or art
*Working hard was a sign that you were favored in the eyes of God (but hard work didn't grant you salvation).
*Any laziness or idleness was considered sinful.
*right vs. wrong/good vs. evil
(there is no in between)
*Knowledge of scripture was essential.
4. Community Mindset (rather than individual concerns)
After Eve's mistake (aka the Fall), all of humanity was damned.

Because of Eve, we are naturally sinful.
Obviously, God's knowledge isn't limited by time or space, so he has always known which few of the billions of humans were members of the "elect," those who will be granted salvation. There isn't anything the others can do to change the condition of their souls. Since no human knows who is saved and who is damned, all must live as heaven-bound so as not to fall out of favor.
The Puritans were literate and well-educated, and Puritan authors were respected and regularly published in London. While the Bible was indeed their primary reading material, they expounded upon its themes through poetry and prose.
Expressed themes such as:
*the unworthiness of mankind before God
*the meaninglessness of possessions
*the danger of vanity
*the difficulties of life in a frontier setting
1. Anne Bradstreet
"The Vanity of all Worldly Things"
"The Flesh and the Spirit"
2. Michael Wigglesworth
"Day of Doom" (a best-seller)
Most Significant Puritan Poets
Puritan Prose
Sermons were the most popular form of prose (non-poetic writing).
Most Influential Prose Writers
1. Jonathan Edwards
"Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God"
(We're going to read this warm fuzzy, feel good piece in a few days.)
Works inspired by Puritans
The Puritan culture has inspired many works, but two of the most widely known (and coincidentally, the two major works we will focus on) are The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible.
If you were a Puritan, how would you respond to the following situations?
Start Here...
1. Your best friend gets pregnant in high school
(she is not married to the father). Can you still
be friends with her?
2. You fall in love with a handsome young man.
He is intelligent, hilarious, and treats you like a
princess. He likes to play cards with his friends.
Can you date him?
3. Your daughter has memorized the Bible and wants to attend Harvard
to become a church scholar. Women are not allowed to attend
universities, but you could cut her hair and dress her like a man... no
one would ever know. What do you do?
4. It is freezing cold outside, and the wind is blowing
terribly hard. You are curled up inside by the fire with
your wife when your neighbor knocks on the door and asks you to help fix his plow. What is your response?
5. A traveling salesman comes to town selling a beautiful red cloak. You have the money to buy it, but you already have a perfectly functional black one. Do you buy the new, prettier coat?
*developed some university in 1636...
maybe you've heard of it... Harvard.
2. Reverend Cotton Mather (one of the three judges in the Salem Witch Trials)
*450 publications
*best known for non-fiction piece "The Wonders of the Invisible World," an account and defense of the Salem Witch Trials
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