Through literary analysis, the audience Is able to trace the dominant themes of opportunity and religion that contribute to American values in literature from the earliest letters and narratives by exploration and alongside, through the Puritan period, to the Age of Reason. Puritan ethics are prevalent throughout early American literature, stemming from the Puritans themselves, and continuing into and beyond 19th century literature. Puritans such as John Winthrop, governor and community leader, wrote many stories which religion was emphasized.
In one of his most famous works, “A Model of Christian Charity,” Winthrop prepares the people for planting a new society In a perilous environment. His belief along with other Puritans is that God had a “preordained plan” (Winthrop 7) for everyone. They believed that they were the covenant people, and that hard work, spiritual health, and self-reliance would lead to eternal salvation. These religious beliefs would later become known as the Puritan ethic, and would continue to Influence the authors of early American society.
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Literary works from the colonial period were written primarily to teach, preach the Gospel, praise God and examine religion. It was believed that through these teachings and divine revelation, God will have a “heavy affliction” and positive affect on the people and “the land” on which hey settled (Winthrop 75). This would in turn make the new world a pure and holy society. Other authors such as William Bradford and Anne Broadsheet (the first published female American author), wrote on religion, Puritan’s views, and God’s influence on early colonial society.
During the Journey across the seas to the new land, many of the Separatist encountered many trials and tribulations, one of those being a horrible storm. Through God’s “mercy and goodness” and “love” they were able to survive the storms and safely make It to the new world. Bradford 61). The Puritan ethic emerged from the rhetoric and beliefs that God and “Love Is the bond of perfection” (Winthrop 80) of the early writers of America.
These ethics and morals would continue to influence many writers in early American literature as they explored the value of religion, and its place in the world. Along with being a nation that was being built on the principles and beliefs of the Pilgrims and Puritans, America was seen as a safe haven from the corrupt rule of the British King and a land of opportunity and chance. Occurred was an exceptional addition to the world of American literature and this was even more obvious with publishing of his extraordinary works.
Through a series of letters, he illustrates the idealized version off free society. A place where “man is free,” (Occurred 31 1) a country where the government Initially had no “bread” (Occurred 313) to feed Its citizens, but who would eventually morph Into a country of riches and wealth. Initially the “new world” was a place that was very poor and had very little to offer to Its citizens, but over time as able to become a more advanced and developed place for opportunity.
Even discrepancies in the society. We often credit the Europeans for colonizing America, even though the Indians were the first to occupy the land. Many stories and narratives from the Colonial Age where written from the perspectives of European settlers which in turn gave our current society a skewed view of the early Native Americans. European authors would often refer to Native Americans as savage or animals who “shouted and hallowed” (Rowland 119) since of civilization.
Along with being misunderstood as a culture, and having their homeland now occupied by European settlers, the Native Americans faced many other issues in which their society would be changed for ever. Red Jacket’s “Speech to the U. S. Senate” moreover is one that is a great example of how the Native American society wished to remain the way they were and continue in their ceremonious rituals such as celebrating their religion because they do not know of the “Great Spirit” that the “white people” serve (Red Jacket 215).
The Age of Reason which began in the 18th century presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights the corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Thomas Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as an “ordinary piece” (Paine 329) of literature rather than as a divinely inspired text. The Age of Reason is not atheistic, but Deistic: it promotes natural religion and argues for a creator God (imagine of a clock maker).
This age is here rational thinkers n which literary geniuses, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson brought to the forefront the ideas and beliefs that everything has a rational explanation. In Common Sense, Thomas Paine argues for American independence. His argument begins with more general, theoretical reflections about government and religion, and then progresses onto the specifics of certain colonial situations. In conclusion the early American literature, its authors, and the great mind of the Colonial Age and the Age of Reason have helped to shape the land of opportunity that we call America.