Anne Bradstreet: Women Can Write Poetry
Poetry can be an important tool to unlock the experiences of European settlers in the 16th and 17th century time period as they colonized North America. Puritans were some of the first settlers in New England, their strict religious beliefs and customs instructed daily interactions, prose and poetry. Many people relied on writing during this time to describe the chaotic landscape of colonization. Poetry, in particular draws on experiences of all kinds and universally extends to all members of society, creating a higher understanding and awareness. Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to publish a book of poetry in early American literature, she did so by manipulating Puritan gender expectations and exploring the idea that both men and women alike can participate in poetry.
While it remained difficult for women to express their views in the 17th century, Anne Bradstreet navigated this time period with ease by writing from her own perspective in reaction to familial experiences of new world settlers. Bradstreet was a fortunate female during this time period. She came from a politically powerful family and had the opportunity to attend formal schooling on the humanities and arts. She is keenly aware of the insecurities males had on the subject of writing. During this time the role of women in Puritan society was to rear children, obey men and honor their subservient roles as women. As a result women were considered intellectually inferior and confined to their domestic roles. She wrote The Prologue in 1650 as an introduction to her poetry and anticipates the skepticism from the male by audience by stating, "Men can do best, and women know it well” (40.) She continues to honors the Puritan standard that only (male) poets and historians should write on wars, captains, and kings so that, “My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth” (l 6 420.) She implies that she will not...