Film Analysis of Mary Silliman's War

Topics: Gender role, American Revolutionary War, Woman Pages: 3 (1035 words) Published: November 28, 2011
Ben Fontana
HST 340
Mary Silliman’s War Assignment
Due 10/11/2011

I very much enjoyed watching the film “Mary Silliman’s War.” The movie highlighted the story of a woman in the revolutionary war who lost her husband for an extended period of time. Mary Silliman’s husband, Selleck, was a state attorney in Connecticut, and was in charge of prosecuting Tories. Tories are people who’s allegiance still lies with the British empire, and Selleck’s job is to basically keep them away from the colonies by either sending them back to Britain or putting them in jail. However, when two Tories, Griswold and Glover, are sentenced to be executed, there is an uprising against the man who prosecuted them. So while Selleck gets sent away, Mary is forced to live at home by herself with her two children. She does have the help of her servant girl Amelia and her slave, Peter, but at the same time Mary takes it upon herself to ‘take control’ in a sense.

In the beginning of the film, we see that Mary Silliman has no power or say in the household. The opening scene has her son or Amelia ask about getting something extra, and you can see her look at Selleck for approval. He shakes his head, and than Mary relays the message. That’s how it was for all women during the revolutionary period. All the power was delegated to the male head of the household (if he was present). And also while Selleck was present in the household, there was a lot of emphasis put on Mary Silliman practicing her religion. This definitely prescribed to female gender roles in this era because after Mary spoke out against Selleck, she immediately went and prayed and asked the Lord for his forgiveness. Specifically, she said she wanted forgiveness for “creating division in the household” because “pride overcame her.”

However, once Selleck is gone, we see the transformation of Mary Silliman. After she gets over the initial grief of not having him there to support the family, she begins to take some action. Her...
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