January 18, 2018
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Bradstreet truly intrigues me. I feel her vulnerability is so crucial to understanding the time she lived in. This section stood out to me particularly because of her honesty. Her poems make sense to me even more so now, having read this. Bradstreet did question her faith, and she confesses it here. It amazes me; the struggle of Bradstreet and her people. How many of them must have questioned their faith, and how could they not? The perils of their lives not only in New England but in “Old England”.
This paragraph was interesting to me due to its relationship to paragraph 15. Throughout this piece, Bradstreet discusses her various sins and how afflictions that God gave her brought her closer to him. In this paragraph, Bradstreet tells her children to take chastisement from God “thankfully and Joyfully as in greatest mercyes, for if yee bee his yee shall reap the greatest benefitt by it.” However, when discussing her pilgrimage to America in paragraph 15, Bradstreet says that she hasn’t found “that constant Joy…which I supposed most of the servants of God have,” which makes it seem like her troubles didn’t result in the happiness she claimed it did in paragraph 13. Despite her dealing with these various afflictions and hardships, and still being not as happy as others, she says, “But when I have been in darkness and seen no light, yet have I desired to stay myself upon the Lord.” Through these two paragraphs, we can see that Bradstreet feels that troubles and afflictions given by God are necessary for one to be close to him, even if their happiness isn’t the same as someone else’s.
Again this paragraph struck me due to the puritan ideals regarding badness being both brought on by God and deserved due to past imperfection or perhaps internal affliction due to the imperfection of man. “…the Lord Laid his hand sore upon me and smott mee with small pox.” In order to become well again, this belief that submission to God was needed to become well, “…I besought the Lord, and condessed my Pride and Vanity and he was entreated of me, and again restored me.” She believes, as most did at the time, that suplication to God will gain forgiveness and blessing no matter how undeserving the believe that they are.
Data visualization for Bradstreet’s letter.
This particular paragraph stood out to me because Bradstreet claims that it pleased God to keep her from having children, which in turn, caused her grief. The question that comes to my mind is how can the causing of grief be justified? Is it like when she was 16 and caving to vanity so God gave her smallpox? Was she not following God devoutly so her consequence was that she could not bear children for some time?
I completely agree with you. It seems odd to me that she thinks God is pleased that she wasn’t having children, and that she was grieving over it. I think it is odd that anyone could think that God takes pleasure in watching his children grieve.
My favorite lines are the first 3 in this paragraph. I am not a religious person, however, i have found myself asking the same question “how i could know whether there was a God.” this is just such a powerful message especially in the lines that follow about how “I never saw any miracles to confirm me.” How simple would her miracles have been to ease her thoughts about God’s place in her life. She is so honest in her feelings that while she questions whether there is a God, she can tell there is a higher power or and “eternal Being” based on the beauty and the wonders that she sees around her. this was by far my favorite paragraph.
This stanza stood out to me because of the harsh yet grateful tone it took on. Begins with again the idea that the Lord has been kind and when she is in pain or sickness she looks to him to eventually feel better. She goes on to say “altho: he grounded me to powder…” pretty harsh in my option wasn’t expecting that. I really enjoyed the interpretation of Heaven and Hell and how the only thing that decides whether you’re in heaven or hell is wether or not you have the love of God. In my experience inviting God into your life is having God love you so how I viewed this was if you have god in your life you will enter heaven and if you don’t have God in your life you will end in Hell.
Here, in the close of this private letter to her children, Bradstreet clearly expresses some of the core Puritan values that we have been learning about. Bradstreet explains that she has seen the Worldly temptations lure the less pious Christian’s in the colony away and possibly alluding to a degree of Declension. She also gives direct reference to “the elect”, or those chosen by God, and expressing the potential of their own fall from Grace if they do not strive to keep their souls pure on Earth.
She closes the paragraph on a note devoutly expressing the repeated theme of Absolute Sovereignty, as everything in being in God’s “charge”. I noticed throughout most (if not all) of Bradstreet’s pieces she ends on this line of direct praise and devotion to God, as though even her writings are only made possible through him.
This passage reflects our key term introspection. Because she was often sick, Bradstreet had plenty of time to analyze herself and “search what was amisse”. This time seems to have helped her over come her doubts about the Puritan faith, as she spends this letter imploring her children to put their faith in God and maintain their religion. I think the statement that God used Bradstreet’s illnesses as punishment and a reminder to strengthen her faith is an interesting conclusion, and I wonder if perhaps this conclusion came to her because she feared death and to believe in God’s plan made her less afraid.
This paragraph stood out to me too. She believed as many Puritans did, that if something bad happens that they must have displeased God. She went to God just as any Puritan would and when she got better she believed God cured her because she had confessed her pride and vanity to him. As you said God will gain forgiveness and blessing no matter how undeserving they believe they are. I could imagine living as a puritan, with everything bad or good happening in your life is solely based on your relationship with God. If something bad happens to you and you pray to God to fix it, but nothing happens what do you do then? Faith is a good thing, but I believe sometimes you have to take things into your own hands.
I thought that the introduction to this piece was really interesting. While it sets the reader up to know what to expect in the piece, it also contains a lot of insight into life. As Bradstreet says in the first sentence, “I, knowing by experience that the exhortations of parents take most effect when the speakers leave to speak…” (NAAL 272). Just this first bit of reading already contains an important message–that words tend to matter most when the speaker ceases to speak, or when the speaker passes away. The introduction also contains the purpose of this letter, as she says, “…but that you may gain some spiritual advantage by my experience” (NAAL 272). Bradstreet is writing this in hopes that her children can not only learn from her experiences, but gain some sort of advantage spiritually from these letters. I thought that this introduction was an interesting and effective way to grasp the reader right out of the gate by not only conveying purpose, but by also conveying important life lessons.
Here, as in with many of Bradstreet’s works, we see again that idea of internal division. In my opinion it is her willingness to examine and discuss this inner turmoil that made Bradstreet rhetorically effective and appealing to her audience. While Puritan beliefs stress the need for ever-certain faith and a dogged loyalty to God – the author reveals the relatable weaknesses of the human condition.
To have a contemporary writer that openly voiced doubts and struggles with faith, but usually by the end of the piece finds a hopeful resolution despite all this, must have been incredibly comforting to like minded readers of her time.
In the beautiful written letter, Bradstreet says that in order to be grounded and devoted to her faith, God had to chastened her with affliction and sickness. “I have no sooner felt my heart out of order, but I have expected correction for it, which most commonly hath been upon my own person in sickness, weakness, pains, sometimes on my soul, in doubts and fears of God’s displeasure and my sincerity towards Him; sometimes He had smote a child with sickness…” What struck me in this stanza is the way she inflicts emotional distress upon herself in order to live up to the Puritan ideals. How terrifying must of felt believing that every time one of her children got sick, she was the one to blame because her devotion to God was not good enough.
I agree with both of you about the power of this letter and the depths of serious self-awareness and honesty it reveals in Bradstreet. The confessions of religious doubt and sinful inclinations in this letter are indeed extraordinary, and they reveal a compelling complexity in the Puritan character that has not been apparent to us in writers we’ve studied until now. This is of course where the internal division phenomenon originates. As Hillary asks, how could one not question the existence of God in a world as brutal as unjust as it appeared in this time period, and as Erica points out the absence of miracles in Bradstreet’s life posed just as many problems for her belief system as they would for a modern human being. It is significant that her doubts are associated with her past attempts to reason her way into belief, but that her accounts of actual religious experience involve more to do with emotions and intuitive experiences. This was an important distinction for Puritans, and we’ll see Jonathan Edwards developing an appropriate vocabulary for it in his sermon “A Divine and Supernatural Light.”
Like both of you, I thought her vulnerability in this paragraph was striking. What I wondered, though, is if anyone reading might have considered it heretical or would they have accused her of not being “pure” enough or without grace? She does assert several times that she believes in God, especially in the next paragraph, but the fact that she questions the existence of God himself could be construed as not fully believing. Although, I might be wrong in this assumption.
I agree this paragraph talks about God punishing those who claim to follow him but don’t. This, however, was not the reason why this paragraph stuck out to me. My mother was given one bad thing after another until she sought after God.
Just as the author was given a “trial” period, I think–God not giving her children for some time to test her loyalty–just as I think God might be testing my mother’s.
I completely agree with you on the introduction, it is a great hook to grasp our attention abd summaruze what we will be reading. I think it’s great that she left this information for her children. Though we do learn all our lives from our parents, we don’t always ask our parents why they think or believe a certain way. You can tell that she feels very strongly and passionately about her religion and beliefs. It’s a great letter and read.
I think the idea that Bradstreet probably has to justify this decision by God is that she was not ready for a child as of yet. As someone who is not religious this seems a little absurd to me, but understanding Bradstreet’s background it seems that this is something she would probably believe. Looking at paragraph 14 Bradstreet says, “I have had great experience of God’s hearing my Prayers, and returning comfortable Answers to me, either in granting the Thing I prayed for, or else in satissfying my mind without it…”. Bradstreet seems to be satisfied with God no matter what he does and she seems to justify his actions by convincing herself that this is better for her and she will be happier with whatever path was chosen for her. It seems reasonable to me that a woman of her background would question God’s choices, but still believe in them to the fullest extent.
This final paragraph is quite interesting. It states that while writing this she was very sick and weak so the writing may seem a bit off because it was weakly and imperfectly written. It is interesting because she goes on to state that if the reader can pick anything of benefit out of the writing then that is what she aimed to do. I find this odd because she initially never wanted her works published yet she ends this as if it was to much more than her children. Sure, her children would have read this, but it seems as if she was addressing more audience than just them.
I agree with your statements. It is interesting that she did not want any of her works published, but this one shares a great deal of personal experience because it was supposed to be shared with her children. In the opening paragraph she states, “…but that you may gain some spiritual advantage by my experience.” I think that the main goal of sharing this with her children was so that her children could also spread this message about God and how one should live their lives in a world full of materialism. Her stating that any benefit gained out of the reading makes the words she has stated so much more profound, especially to the intended audience. Altogether I find the reading a deep and honest account of a Puritan young women who wanted what she experienced to be shared with those closest to her.
Throughout this piece, it stood out to me how willing Bradstreet is to voice her questions and doubts about her religion. She struggles with her faith in a very human way that the previous authors we’ve read have not addressed. She intended this piece to help her children find faith in God through her own experiences and used effective rhetoric devices to achieve her goals. Rather than just instructing her children to follow God’s will, she gives examples of times in her own life when she struggled to understand why God put her through the difficult times she endured. She always responds that her faith in God was strengthened by the struggles; the cause and effect examples are far more persuading than lecturing could have been. Bradstreet wrote this piece with a goal in mind that she effectively achieves through her rhetorical choices.
I found this paragraph very interesting in the manner with which Bradstreet addresses the role of the troubles and tribulations that she has experienced in her life. The final sentences where Bradstreet equates the role of afflictions to “the rod” on her back without which she is prone to wander. I see this as yet another example of total depravity, emphasizing the fact that without this constant “rod” or threat of impending discipline, she is hopeless to make any good decision on his own. The kind of introspective, internal struggle depicted in these lines and elsewhere between good and evil mirrors the struggle the Apostle Paul had in Romans 7:16-17 (ESV) when he states: “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” However, unlike Paul, who turns around to praise Jesus Christ for giving him the ability to choose to do good, Bradstreet paints a picture of God as an authoritarian father, crediting the threat of divine retribution and revocation of her state of grace with keeping her in line to “keep thy statutes.” While I see this passage partly as an inspirational ideal of finding grace and strength in the midst of trials, I also think that it focuses on painting a very legalistic, disciplinary and authoritarian view of God and his allowance of affliction.
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January 24, 2018 at 11:36 pm
See in context
January 24, 2018 at 11:20 pm
January 24, 2018 at 10:49 pm
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April 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm
In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”. Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters.
Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.
April 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.
April 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm
In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.
Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.
April 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.
April 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm
In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.
Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.
April 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm
In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson, they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.
Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.
April 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm
I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.
April 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.
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Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118.
April 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19). His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”. As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers.
Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.
April 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm
According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.
Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.
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