Anne Bradstreet was not the typical Puritan author. She wrote sweet and loving poems that greatly contrasted from other writers of her time. She did not write the ever so popular sermons that told people that they were going to hell and there was nothing they could do about it. Bradstreet was a rarity in Puritan times, she was a very educated woman that worked on something other than being a woman in the household. She was one of a kind and the beginning of an era. Using literary criticism when reading Anne Bradstreet’s poems adds a deeper understanding of her character and difficulties in life.
Anne Bradstreet was America's first noteworthy poet in spite of the fact that she was a woman. Both the daughter and wife of Massachusetts governors, Bradstreet suffered all of the hardships of colonial life, was a mother, and still found time to write. Her poem, "The Author to Her Book," is an example of Bradstreet's excellent use of literary techniques while expressing genuine emotion and using domestic subject matter.
The poem “To my Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet, is not just an exceedingly felt expression of a wife’s marital love and commitment to her husband, as it is about a puritan women who is supposed to be reserved but she makes it her obligation to enlighten her husband of her devotion. A thorough analysis of the poem’s paradox, hyperbole, imagery and repetition reveals how she conveys her message.
Throughout women in colonial America, Anne Bradstreet was one of the strongest and influential figures of the time. Mrs. Bradstreet lived from the years 1612 through 1672 not knowing she would inspire later generations with her works and actions. Ever since a little girl, Anne’s father, Thomas Dudley, would make Anne write poetry so they could read together. Anne later married Simon Bradstreet, a future governor, at the age of sixteen years old and boarded on the ship Arbella headed to Plymouth, Massachusetts, with the famous sermoner John Winthrop??? In the famous writings of the poet, we learn Anne has a personal and formal writing voice. Anne writes in Iambic Pentameter, Couplets, and Paradox. Anne became a well-known colonial writer not
Anne Bradstreet was a woman in conflict. She was a Puritan wife and a poet. There is a conflict between Puritan theology and her own personal feelings on life. Many of her poems reveal her eternal conflict regarding her emotions and the beliefs of her religion. The two often stood in direct opposition to each other. Her Puritan faith demanded that she seek salvation and the promises of Heaven. However, Bradstreet felt more strongly about her life on Earth. She was very. She was very attached to her family and community. Bradstreet loved her life and the Earth.
In addition, Bradstreet expressed a need for equality. She wanted people to take a step back and glimpse back to history, “Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are;” (240). In Greece, women were equal among men, as were the Gods and Goddesses. In the seventh stanza of “The Prologue,” Bradstreet gives her most strong cry out for recognition, still however, it is subtle, “Men have precedeny and still excel,/ It is but vain unjustly to wage war;/men can do best, and women know it well/ Preeminence in all and each is yours;/ Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours” (240). Also in this quote is Bradstreet’s observance of men in their natural state. She sees men as war hungry, vain and powerful. Consequently, Anne Bradstreet faced a double bind. If she voiced her thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, she would have put herself in danger, and by not saying anything, she would force herself to go on living in a patriarchy.
Anne Bradstreet, as a poet, wrote as both a Puritan woman in her time and as a woman ahead of her time. Zach Hutchins analyzed this tension in “The Wisdom of Anne Bradstreet: Eschewing Eve and Emulating Elizabeth”, and makes a primary argument that three of Bradstreet’s poems provide evidence that Bradstreet rejects the Puritan views of a woman while keeping her own personal faith. Hutchins fither his argument by declaring that readers should not view Bradstreet as a symbol of rebellion or submission, instead as a symbol of wisdom.
Even though, she will not be able to repay him with money as materialistic things are not of value, Bradstreet will write about him in her poetry, to show him her gratitude and express her love for him. I feel that Bradstreet wrote her poems about her father to impress him and make sure he knew that she was doing everything she could to repay him and show him her gratefulness for life. Bradstreet never discredits her father or places any blame on him for anything happening in her life, which was true of Puritan beliefs at that time.
Anne Bradstreet’s poetry resembles a quiet pond. Her quiet puritan thinking acts as the calm surface that bears a resemblance to her natural values and religious beliefs. Underneath the pond there is an abundance of activity comparable to her becoming the first notable poet in American Literature. Anne Bradstreet did not obtain the first notable poet’s title very easily; she endured sickness, lack of food, and primitive living conditions during her time in the New World. Despite these misfortunes she used her emotions and strong educational background to write extraordinarily well for a woman in that time.
Bradstreet wanted her poetry to remain private. She accepted her poetry unconditionally, like a mother accepts her child, because if she tried to correct the poem's flaws more flaws appeared. A distinct expression of Bradstreet true love to her
Anne Bradstreet is well-recognized because she was the first female American poet. The previous statement makes it seem as if her poems are only noteworthy due to her literary importance in history outweighing her poetic artistry. Luisa Hall in The Influence of Anne Bradstreet’s Innovative Errors explains that “the problem Bradstreet faces...is not the problem of being a woman or being the first American poet, but...fearing she has no right to speak, of fearing her voice cannot insert itself into English literary history” (23). Another writer that supports Hall’s claim is Catherine Sedgwick: “Sedgwick’s ability to champion an expansion of woman’s sphere beyond domestic settings was blunted by “deep inner restraints” that derived from her
Anna Bradstreet grows up in a healthy family. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley who is the manager of the country estate of the Puritan Earl of Lincoln. Anna Bradstreet got married at the age of 16 to the young Simon Bradstreet who was working with Anna father. Anna Bradstreet never went to school but her father always taught her and gave her an education. It that time many women didn’t have an education. Anna considers one of the best and most important American poets. When Bradstreet was a little girl, she writes poems to honor and please her father. After she got married, she kept writing and it marriage didn’t stop her. Her brother in law, John Woodbridge, pastor of the Andover Church, brought with him to London a manuscripts collection of her poetry in 1650. It was her first book, The Tenth Muse was the first published volume of poems written by an American resident and it was widely read. Anne Bradstreet was a very religious and Godly woman. Anne Bradstreet always tried to live life in a perfect way. Anne Bradstreet was a woman of God and she always wrote about her faith in her poetry. She always talked about the Puritan and their believes and views on salvation and reclamation in her poetry. Anna seems to believe that God has punished her through her sicknesses. The Puritans believed suffering was God’s plan of preparing the soul and heart for accepting his mercy
Anne Bradstreet, a well-educated woman, strong in her Puritan beliefs, captured her thoughts by writing poetry, which included works such as “Contemplations” which was preceded by “The Prologue”. Written in the mid 1600’s as the colonies were beginning to form, Bradstreet’s poem included themes of religion, nature, and family. Although she claims to have written them without the intent of publication, a collection of her poetry was printed in 1650. She identifies her struggles with faith, yet writes from the view of a faithful woman who recognizes the superior role of men in her society. Although appearing to be modest and undermining her talents, it seems evident that Bradstreet was, in reality, confident that as a well educated women she was capable of writing just as well as a man. Although it is claimed that Anne Bradstreet did not intend for her writing to be published, her poetry utilizes a feminist tone and theme of higher education conveying her hidden desires to prove herself as a female author.
In 1628, Anne Bradstreet married her father’s assistant, Simon Bradstreet, upon which she began to use her husband’s surname of Bradstreet (Eberwein 161). Consequent to their nuptials, Simon Bradstreet moved into the Earl’s house to live with Anne and her family (“Anne Bradstreet”). In May of 1630, Bradstreet embarked on the Arbella for a protracted, two-month journey with her husband and parents (Gordon 3). Bradstreet encountered sickness, hunger, and squalid living conditions throughout her journey (“Anne Bradstreet”). The Arbella was designed as a merchant ship, and although larger than its counterparts, was unprepared for the voyage to the New World, “...she carried ten thousand gallons of beer but only thirty-five hundred gallons of water, which could not be kept potable for very long...” (White 105). Like Bradstreet, other passengers became ill during their journey due to the deficiency in making proper arrangements (White 104-105). Once the onerous journey ceased, the Bradstreets arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where The Bradstreets moved around until finally settling in Andover in 1642. Once living in Andover, Bradstreet and her husband had eight children between the years 1633 and 1652 . As she had many children, she had many chores as well. Bradstreet would write as her schedule would allow, mostly in between performing her domestic duties (“Anne Bradstreet”).
Religious topics continued to dominate early American literature in the 18th century, for example, in the works of Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather. Their strict Calvinistic, Puritanical views gave their writings a "fire-and-brimstone" type of style a inflammatory rhetoric meant to rouse religious fervor (Baym 103). Both Hawthorne and Herman Melville (another later generation New Englander) would focus some of their most important works of literature on their Calvinist roots. In contrast to these fiery preachers, however, were the mid-17th century poems of Anne Bradstreet, the first published female New England poet. Her poems are dominated by a steady calm and loving confidence in Providence and are much sweeter in tone.