Mary Rowlandson(A narrative of the Captivity and Restoration) and Anne Bradstreet(To my Dear Children)
Creativity and imagination have surrounded the existence of man for ages. Expression of various forms of talents takes different forms. These include literature, arts, and sports activities. Pieces of Literature especially has shown tremendous growth in the history of man. Critics have evaluated and assessed the various form of literature from different perspectives. Most significantly is the American literature; scholars have aired different views about the styles employed by American artists in their literary work. It is worth noting that the American literature displays a circular pattern. The pattern denotes variations in thematic presentations from spiritual to secular and reverting to religious contents. The purported cycle gets well illustrated by the analysis of Puritans, Revolutionists, Romantics and Transcendentalists works of literature.
Spiritualism according to the Puritans bases on the existence of a majestic creature God. They believed in complete dependence of human beings on the Creator for salvation and grace. There was the emphasis on personal experience with God which led to the purification of Roman Catholic churches. The author, Mary Rowlandson, in her book the Narrative of Captivity and Restoration, recounts the countless times God intervened during the Phillip war. The literature notes the miserable, hopeless and miserable situation the captives had been. They had lost their loved ones, for instance, Mary had parted ways with her husband, family members and other properties she refers to as ‘worldly possessions’. Despite all the challenges and tribulations, she notes that God gave her the courage, hope and lightened her spirit to forge ahead.
On the other hand, Anne Bradstreet in her literary work, To My Dear Children, She narrates the agony she went through after losing all her belongings when her house burnt down and most devastating when her children succumbed to diseases. At first she seems to blame her problems on divinities but finally she demonstrates her strong faith in God. She says her grandchildren are with Jesus Christ, affirming spiritualism as a theme. She finally struggles to come to terms with God’s will to human beings and nature.
According to Columbus, a revolutionist, In Letter the First Voyage, He recounts the various experiences they went through along their journey. They came across many people of different cultures and beliefs along their journey. It is apparent according to the literature that they had the primary aim of converting the foreigners to Christianity which they had subscribed. Columbus says they had to give the foreigners articles and other materials expecting nothing in return. Their intention is clear when he asserts that the pleasantries were meant to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. Benjamin Franklin is renowned for a creation of Junto, a club talking and debating various philosophical and scientific principles. Benjamin notes that he does not go to Church but prays often. He relates religion to virtues and is receptive of evangelical preachers, Samuel Hemphill, and George Whitefield. The theme of spiritualism is evident in his autobiography (Bell 735)
Sarah Kimble Knight in her literary work, Journey from Boston to New York, She embarks on a very dangerous journey on a horse. She was a Puritan, who believed in God and service to the husband. She narrates her encounters with natives along the way bringing the theme of secularism on some cultures. A feature of the Puritans gets revealed as being Sober and unsmiling; they have concentrated mainly in individualism. The article is a source of history of manners and customs of the time. She writes very objectively and shows less passion about her encounters, more so to inform readers on the events of the journey than sharing personal feelings of her moving experiences.
On the other hand, Anne Bradstreet as a romanticist advocate discusses broad perspectives in her poem. She talks about feminism, Christianity, and psychological themes. She faced many adversities in life, but from the poem it is clear that God helped her triumph all that successfully. She recognizes the presence and intervention of heaven when she says the ‘heavens’ are responsible for the death of her children. Later, she realizes that human existence is not a permanent status, she finally finds solace in the fact that she will meet with her granddaughter one day. Her work contributes to the circular pattern of American literature.
Secularism as a principle entails two main ideas, the distinction between state and individuals and equality before law regarding diverse religions and beliefs in the society. The doctrine seeks to protect believers and non-believers, advocates for religious freedom that is the mainstay of democracy and fairness. Transcendentalists believe that the purity of individuals gets tarnished by organized religions and political parties. Phillis Wheatley in her narrative ‘Being Brought from Africa to America’; the transition of literature is overtly evident. It talks about a slave captured from Africa to the New Lands. It notes that in Africa, there was no standardized form of religion, like the current scenario where redemption gets widely spoken. The narrator says he did not know anything about God and the existence of a Savior until they arrived into the new world. Wheatley is seen to appreciate the decision of whites to introduce blacks to Christianity. (Adler 10)
According to Phillip Freneau in his poem ‘The India Burying Ground’ He talks about the culture of the Native Americans referred to as noble savages. The culture is envisaged by burying the dead in a sitting position to symbolize their natural vitality in life and for eternity. The poem comprehensively reveals the beliefs of the people concerning mortality of human beings. The writer displays an unpolished fascination coupled with supernatural phenomena. Freneau commences his poem with a declaration of autonomy from received opinions about the European civilizations respecting burial rites and finalizes with support to the new Romantic imagination that is fancy bound. Therefore, capable of appreciating the existence of Indian spirits; shown to be forever present and alive in the forms of shadows, moonlight, and mist. The poem illustrates on secularism as well as spiritualism.
In conclusion, it is evident that American Literature moved full circle. The decision focuses on the analysis of literary work from Puritans, Revolutionists, Romanticists and the Transcendent pieces of literature. For instance, Rowlandson, in her work Narrative of Captivity and Restoration, She is regarded as a puritan. She recounts events that took place during their culture and intervention of God during the tough times. She lost her husband, belongings, and family. However, she still appreciates the presence of God as her only help and comfort; to relieve her from the burden and keep her moving forward. Therefore, the analyzed literary works illustrate the view that American literature encompassed all the facets of spiritualism and secularism.
Adler, Gary J. Secularism. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2015. Print.
Bell, M. ‘Mirror to America: The Autobiography Of John Hope Franklin’. Psychiatric Services 57.5 (2006): 735-735. Web.