Anne Bradstreet's Puritan Society

1179 Words5 Pages

1. Intro This paper examines whether the poet Anne Bradstreet managed to write autonomously even though she was part of the patriarchic Puritan community. As considering all works of her life would go beyond the limits of this paper, the focus is only on her first publications. Therefore, a short definition of autonomy and gender are given. Secondly, information about the Puritan community as well as Anne Bradstreet is provided. Next, several poems of Anne Bradstreet’s first publications, The Tenth Muse as well as ‚The Author to her book‘ are analyzed in relation to the evidence of autonomy. Finally, the paper concludes by analyzing to what extent Anne Bradstreet accomplished to write autonomously based on the preliminary research. 2. Autonomy …show more content…

This distinctions might be due to the long history of the concept as it was already used to describe the “independence of Greek city- states” while, nowadays, it refers to a “psychological construct” (Hmel & Pincus 2002: 278). Still, there are several similarities as, for example, Friedman considers autonomy as “self-determination”(2003: 4) and Wiggins regards it as individual “agency” (1997: 1081). Both times, autonomy is valued as a freedom of decision. However, Baumeister assumes that the decisions are likely to be shaped by social norms acquired throughout life (2012: 286). This assumption is supported by Friedman who suggests that autonomy is influenced by the social identity, for instance, gender (2003: 10). In order to act autonomously within this framework, an “evaluative stance” must be approached (Friedman 2003: 3) and “practical reasons” utilized (Baumeister 2012: 287). The …show more content…

Thus, many Puritans left England in April 1630 to travel to the New World (Martin 1984: 20) to found a “godly community” (Westerkamp 1999: 2). The ships arrived in the wilderness, a harsh place that required strict rules and religious guidance and “Faith in God’s providential plan” to endure the circumstances (Martin 1984:4). This reassurance had already taken place on their way to the New World when John Winthrop delivered his speech, according to which the Puritan community was as a “City upon a hill” representing a model of “biblical commonwealth”(Westerkamp 1999:10). Consequently, the community established fixed power relations wielding much authority to the ministers who often also were medical authorities and, consequently, caused an intersection of spiritual and medial issues (Lutes 1997: 314). The announcements of the Puritan misters influenced the community strongly since the people’s interpretations were based on them (Lutes 1997: 313). Moreover, the Puritan community comprised strict gender roles (Boschmann 2005: 247) as can be seen by the example of Anne Bradstreet. Even though she joined the journey, she was mainly following her father and husband. Her reluctance was indicated by her statement that by living in the new community her “heart rose”(Martin 1984: 20). In particular, within

Open Document