Puritanism in American Literature

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Puritanism in American Literature
The Puritans had a large influence in American literature and still influence moral judgment and religious beliefs in the United States to this day. Puritan writing was used to glorify God and to relate God more directly to our world. Puritan literature was commonly a realistic approach to life. “Puritanism as a historical phenomenon and as a living presence in American life has enriched American literature in ways far too numerous to detail here.” (G. Perkins B. Perkins Phillip Leininger 888) Puritanism is a collection of many different religious and political beliefs. Common styles of Puritan writing are protestant, Calvinist, purposiveness, and the writings also directly reflected the character of the readers who were literate and strongly religious. Pragmaticism and both political and religious Idealism are frequently themes in Puritan literature. Puritanism thus laid the basis for Americanism. It did so on the basis not of philosophical or legal argument, but of Christian belief based on the Bible. (Gelernter 25)The Calvinist ideology, which was popular in Puritanism was based off of the Five Points, which are total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the “saints.” Total depravity is the idea that all humans are born sinful. Unconditional election means that God chooses who he wants to save and also contains the concept of predestination, which is an ideology that God damns certain individuals for the salvation of others. This also ties in with limited atonement, the ideology that Jesus only died for a selected group of individuals, not for everyone. The ideology of irresistible grace is that “the saving and transfiguring power of God,” cannot be either earned or denied. Perseverance of the “saints” is the ideological belief that elected individuals have the power to interpret the will of God and to live in an upright fashion. The Puritans had secular concerns as well as religious. Puritans believed in working hard, and doing selfless things to help others. Puritans also believed in typology, the belief that God's intentions are present in human action and in natural phenomenon. Failures to understand these intentions are human limitations. (“American Puritanism: A Brief Introduction”) In 1620, William Bradford formed the Plymouth Plantation with a group of Europeans that came with him to America. In only a year, their number of survivors decreased by half. Bradford kept a journal that chronicled the first 30 years of Plymouth Colony. Plain speech was the high literary value of this society, as expressed by William Bradford, who enjoined “a plain style, with singular regard to the simple truth in all things.” ("The Influence of Puritanism on American Literature”) In this journal, he exhibited diplomacy and integrity, the ability to assure the colony’s survival, and made a contribution in avoiding potential disasters. His principles established religious freedom and self-government that later shaped American colonial government. John Winthrop wrote A Modell of Christian Charity either before he crossed into America in 1630 or along his journey to the New World. In this book, the struggles that were to be faced in the New World are discussed along with Winthrop’s ideas and plan’s to overcome them. Winthrop was considered to be a contributor to the concept of American exceptionalism, the idea that the New World is unique to other countries by ideology based on laissez-faire and egalitarianism along with liberty. Winthrop has also portrayed that Puritans were neither visionaries nor self-conscious heroes. They were a part of society that believed in solid work such as building homes, trading, farming, and government. Anne Bradstreet was unique to authors of her time because her work had literary creativity and artistic merit and was written for literature. In contrast, works of Winthrop and...
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