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Ann Bradstreet: Conflict Between Self and God

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Ann Bradstreet: Conflict Between Self and God

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  • October 26, 2011
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Colonial American poet Anne Bradstreet’s work has persevered as a literary representation of Puritanism and early America. Bradstreet wrote about God, about the new world, about her family, and domestic life. At first glance her poetry might seem purely Puritanical in form and in subject. However, when examined more deeply, Bradstreet’s poetry shows to be different and more complex, but showing signs of her religious doubts, her expression of personal emotions and thoughts, and her artistry. Her poems are subtly but notably different from traditional Puritan poetry in that she did not write to preach or teach, as most all Puritan writers were instructed to, but she instead expresses herself through her writing. She also has a vivid appreciation for passion and for the role of a strong woman in society. The society Bradstreet lived in was overtly male-dominated, where the limitations on her life were not only of the beliefs and standards of religion, but also of her gender. Women were to be confined to the home, and the experiences of women were considered trivial in comparison with men's. However, Bradstreet's poems unconventionally pronounce that she valued herself as a woman, and valued the domestic experiences of being a woman. Bradstreet’s poems highlight the conflict in her experiences throughout her life to maintain her Puritanical beliefs and background, while at the same time divulge her appreciation for the mortal world. Religion was a dominant theme in Bradstreet’s work, as it was for most Puritan writers in her time. Anne Bradstreet lived and wrote in a time with strict laws and social norms governing what human activities and behaviors were acceptable, both socially in public and morally in private. Aside from a literal belief in the Bible, Puritans also believed that religion should permeate every aspect of life. The purpose of life was to do God's will, and everything else was subordinate to that doctrine. Therefore poetry, like all other...