Puritan Literature

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The Puritan literature of our first unit rebels against the greater context of world events occurring during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Puritan literature portrays that knowledge was gained through studying the Bible, and that the only purpose of gaining further knowledge would be to preserve the integrity of ones own soul, or to help others in saving theirs. The Puritans’ interests in gaining or preserving knowledge were solely religious, and they also believed that any knowledge that man was to have could be found within the Bible. According to the Puritans, if a person had a question, he or she needed only to search the scriptures for an answer. For example, when Anne Bradstreet was searching for an answer as to why her house, and all of her possessions, had burnt to the ground, she looked to scripture, and found solace in the idea everything she had, including her own life, was on lend from God. In the eighteenth century, people still accepted Gods position as the first cause of everything, but they were more interested in the secondary causes. For example, a person might know that God had created the trees that were used to build their house, but he or she would still want to know what had caused the fire. The people in the seventeenth century looked to mans study and understanding of science as heresy, and as trying to undermine the authority of God. In the seventeenth century Puritan view, nature was evil and dangerous. The Puritans lived in villages that were surrounded by walls, or stockades, in order to keep nature and all of the hidden dangers contained therein, such as Indians, out of their homes and their lives. Mary Rowlandson described the first location where the Indians held her prisoner as having a lively resemblance to hell. The people of the eighteenth century, however, embraced nature rather than feared it. They believed that observation of nature using the five senses was one of the best ways to come to an understanding of the...
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