Anne Hutchinson: An Early Feminist
In 1637, women were considered servants of their husbands, and child bearing creatures of many. There were set rules “enforced by the Puritans” which stated women should only bear as many children as possible, raise them, take care of their husbands, and then remain quiet. They were seen as “morally feeble creatures”, who could do no more than “lead men to damnation if [men were to allow them] to form an opinion or express a [belief].”  Anne Hutchinson of the Massachusetts Bay Colony challenged the standard ways of women, however, when she was brought forth at the Court at Newton regarding private meetings in her home which involved discussing God and religion. The trial, written as the Document “The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newton” can be viewed as a piece of the emergence of early feminism, and allows readers to acknowledge the place women were given in the Puritan society. Anne Hutchinson, born Anne Marbury in Alford, Lincolnshire, England July, 1591 was born into a family of a very intelligent man, who she grew to admire and look after. Anne was home-schooled, and became very intrigued by religion and theology at a young age. She read her father’s books, and studied religion as much as possible. She grew up to be a very smart, determined, and sophisticated woman. In 1634, Anne, her husband, and her 15 children followed their protestant minister, John Cotton, to the New England Colonies. Anne knew of their soon departure and hoped that she would be able to practice her “faith in an environment” that favored “the new ideas of Puritanism” more than England did. She had even higher hopes that the New England colonies would be a place which would allow her to “worship God as [she] saw fit.”  After arriving to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and living there for a while, Anne realized that there really wasn’t such a thing as real “religious freedom”. She wished to talk about God and her beliefs as she pleased but because of the way women were viewed, especially “educated English women”, she had no right to do such thing. She stayed quiet for the majority of the time, but couldn’t hold still for long. She organized a Women’s Club in her home where she discussed the scriptures, and her own opinions while praying throughout the meetings. More and more women began to come to here her speak, and eventually men began showing up. Everyone wanted to come into her home and here what she had to say. John Winthrop, the newly appointed governor, soon found out about Hutchinson’s doings and therefore called her to court. The document “The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newton (1637)” is her exact trial. Like Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, Anne Hutchinson was simply a woman who stood strongly for her beliefs. Her trial, I believe, has been made public for later generations to read and be reminded of the difficult times women throughout history have been through, and also the difficult times of people who suffered under tyrants. The document has been produced in order to show that Hutchinson was an early feminist, meaning that she devoted her time to standing up for the equal rights of men and women.  Women like Anne Hutchinson, the character of Hester Prynne, Jane Adams, and Susan B. Anthony have worked diligently to add characteristics associated with male roles to female roles. This document proves that men thought women to be ignorant when it came to political and religious aspects. Men were scared that women would overpower them, and take their roles in society, so by belittling them and not allowing them to do hardly anything at all, they felt secure that they would continue to lead society, but when Anne Hutchinson challenged the ideas of male roles, and challenged the idea of doing what she pleased, when she pleased, chaos broke loose in the largest colony in the Puritan society. The...
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