In 1676, Mary Rowlandson, an American woman, was captured by Native Americans and held against her will for 11 weeks. When she was returned unharmed, she wrote of her experience with the Wampanoags in A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. In this excerpt from her narrative, Rowlandson clearly demonstrates her Puritan beliefs. This essay will identify elements of Puritanism found in Rowlandson’s writing, compare the role of God in her work to that of other Puritan writers, and finally compare Rowlandson’s focus with other Puritan writers. As an example of Puritan writing, Rowlandson’s narrative is one of the most famous works of early American literature.
Even in this short excerpt, Puritan elements are evident. Three of these elements are presented: providence, innate and total depravity, and God’s grace. According to the Puritan belief of Providence, God makes everything happen for a reason, good or bad. An example of providence in Rowlandson’s excerpt is the idea that God sent the “Pagans” to capture her in order to punish her for her sinfulness. She says, “I then remembered how careless I had been in God’s holy time; how many Sabbaths I had lost and misspent, and how evilly I had walked in God’s sight...” (Rowlandson 77). In addition, this reference to her own sinfulness shows the Puritan element of innate and total depravity. In other words, Rowlandson acknowledges that at her core, she is a sinful human being. She says “...how evilly I had walked in God’s sight” (Rowlandson 77). In innate and total depravity, Puritans believe that due to original sin, human beings are by nature all sinful. Finally, the author says that she remains unharmed only due to the grace of God. This Puritan element of God’s grace is reflected in her statement, “Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me...” (Rowlandson 77). Although God punished her, he also saved her-- as only God can grant grace. As these three...
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