Puritan Woman Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Puritan Woman

Puritan women in the New World of the United States were torn between belief that their "hope and treasure lies above" and their very real need to survive and create a loving community on earth. The Puritans were English Protestants, and they had very strong views on a variety of issues. For example, Puritans believed in the literal authority provided by the Bible, and that individuals who did things wrong in life would be punished by God (Coffey & Lim, 2008). There was also no guarantee of salvation for Puritans, and anything they would do for atonement was not enough to protect them from potential damnation in the future. The women in that society were not equal to men, and they were left to do what men wanted them to do and act a certain way in society, or they were not accepted (Coffey & Lim, 2008). Because the Bible can easily be interpreted in many different ways, the opinions of the Puritans may not have been correct. However, at the time the women did not question the issue.

Instead, they worked diligently to protect their families and home life while still trying very hard to focus on the idea that they would receive their rewards in heaven (Coffey & Lim, 2008). That allowed them to sacrifice much of the life they had on earth, which was oftentimes short and difficult. Childbirth and other common occurrences could easily take a woman's life during that time in history, and medical care for those kinds of events was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Men were more stoic, as well, and did not believe in helping women or taking care of them other than financially and providing protection
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from specific dangers. Women were second class in Puritan society, and men were not going to treat them as equals for any reason. They had specific roles and duties, and that was all they had (Coffey & Lim, 2008).

Authors like Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson, for example, demonstrated that in their writing. Bradstreet wrote about all types of issues because she had a good education (Cook, 2010). Still, she also looked to God to reassure and console her, so there was a bit of a disconnect between the logical areas she wrote about and the more emotional/spiritual areas to which she remained attached. God was very important in her life. Bradstreet said, "And when I could no longer look, I blest His grace that gave and took, That laid my goods now in the dust. Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just. It was his own; it was not mine. Far be it that I should repine" (Bradstreet, p. 1).

She wrote many documents that discussed and addressed the role of women, and her role in the life of her husband (Cook, 2010). In Puritan society, women were expected to be wives and mothers. They were deemed inferior to men, and they saw marriage as a gift from God so they could fulfill wifely duties of having children and running their household (Cook, 2010). Of course, they were not really "in charge" of the household, because that was the job of the husband. However, they were allowed to "control" the household to the extent of raising the children when they were young and taking care of the cooking, cleaning, and other household duties. Much of what Bradstreet wrote about dealt with how women should properly take care of the children they had with their husbands (Cook, 2010).…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bradstreet, Anne. (1666). "Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th, 1666"

Coffey, John and Paul C.H. Lim (2008). The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, Cambridge University Press.

Cook, Faith (2010). Anne Bradstreet Pilgrim and Poet, EP Books: Darlington.

Rowlandson, Mary (1682). A true history of the captivity and restoration of Mary Rowlandson. Clorifts-Church Hospital.

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