Intro to Puritan Literature

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Last updated: May 6, 2019

Roots of Puritanism
battled with English authorities over the right to practice their religion for which they were often punished physically and socially•

Vision of Puritanism in America
They imagined a new world where they could create their own society away from religious persecution

One core belief concerning God’s actions to man
Grace The miracle by which God grants some people the ability to love truly• People who were touched by Grace were transformed by God to love without envy, vanity or lust in their hearts

A core belief concerning man’s reaction to God
Plainness• Puritans wanted to return to a simpler way of life without ornament. They wanted to live without earthly or material desires.• They chose to worship in small wooden buildings instead of ornate cathedrals

A core belief concerning man’s reaction to other people
3. Divine Mission• The puritans truly believed that they were on a mission from God to create a new world and religious community when they came to America• In their minds, God had specifically chosen the Puritans to create a new Zion and to be an example for mankind to follow

Diaries
records regarding their daily lives where many Puritan people tried to capture their journey to achieving God’s grace

Poetry
popular form of Puritan writing in which many famous Puritan era poets like Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor expressed their anxiety and wonder of living in the new settlements

Sermons
fierce and apprised Puritan beliefs; possessed traits of puritan writing including simple verse and plain style•

Puritan Plain Style
Simple words in clear order• Puritan’s believed that God’s word did not need to be improved• Suited to the New World: bare and raw without ornamentation•

Puritan Age/ Colonial Period
also known as the Age of Faith 1600-1700

Puritan
“a person with extremely ill moral beliefs”

Significance of Puritan writing
first AMERICAN writing to influence American literature & imagination

Key ideas and aspects of Puritan literature
Puritan beliefs influence what they wrote such as human beings were sinful and deserved to die unless saved by God.

Writings were God-centered, about spiritual personal feelings, self examinations, and quest/road for salvation Writings reveal they sought to follow God’s will & had a strict moral code.

Figurative Language
For example metaphors, similes, etc. used to help give a deeper meaning to common sayings and make them touching, powerful and direct.

Histories, Books, Hymns
writings should be useful and a resource to understand the Bible on a deeper level in their lives.

Puritan Writers/Authors
Anne Bradstreet & Edward Taylor, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, & John Winthrop

Quench
satisfy a thirst

Recompense
something given or done in return for something else, repayment

Manifold
in many ways

Persevere
continue hardship, persist

Anne Bradstreet
1612-1672 Arrived from England with her husband Simon in 1630 at 18 years old;moved to Massachusetts to start anew in America

Bradstreet’s poetry
considered to be the first collection of original poetry written in colonial America

private not public author
Wrote for herself, not for publication;in 1850, her brother John Woodbridge published in England her poems

Puritan beliefs in modesty, hard work and religious devotion were reflected in all aspects of their lives
Wore simple dark clothes; had sparse furnishings; wrote without ornamentation

Figurative language
helped the Puritan poets convey ideas about their religious faith and their personal lives

A metaphor
Our house is our nest.

An extended metaphor
is one that draws the comparison out and compares the two things at length and in many ways

Personification
Our house wraps our family in a warm embrace.

Hyperbole
is a figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis. Our house means more to us than all the money in the world.

“May the heavens repay thee manifold, I pray.”
biblical allusions

Up from the depths he arose.
Inverted syntax— sentence structure in which the expected order of words is reversed

archaic language
words that were once in common use but that are now considered old-fashioned or out-of-date

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