A Whole New Magnificent World
What would one imagine of a new world located over seas that one has read so many things about? When puritans and pilgrims first heard of the New World, they formulated dreams of a foreign land that included fresh opportunities and adventures, God’s support, and hard work. The puritanic American dream can be strung together by using their literary works such as “The General History of Virginia” by John Smith, “To My Dear and Loving Husband” and “Upon the Burning of Our House” by Anne Bradstreet, and “Huswifery” by Edward Taylor. The puritans had very firm values that did not allow imaginative literature; puritan writers were not allowed to produce drama nor fiction, because both genres were deemed sinful. Even with these boundaries, readers can use the puritan’s literary works to create in their mind the American dream that the first colonists shared.
America presented the puritans with brand new opportunities in many different areas. Puritans were allowed to begin their own settlement away from the English Church. Within this new biblical city, they would be able to form their church instead of fighting to reform the English Church. The puritans set down strict ground rules for the members of their holy community to guide them to sanctity and to their Father in heaven. America also offered a great place for tobacco crops, a valuable cash crop; several plantations were set up in Virginia, and numerous men made great fortunes of the agriculture.
John Smith liked to give his readers a good idea of the spellbinding part of life in the New World. In “The General History of Virginia,” Captain Smith illustrates the exciting adventures found in this mysterious place. Smith’s account of Jamestown created huge exposure for the immature colony. The stories of Indian savages capturing John Smith and many men dieing from starvation shocked the people of England. John Smith illustrates his elaborate capture and the ways he obtains the Indians’ trust, respect, and eventually his release.
When the scandal hit England, it created a thrilling image of America. The puritanic American dream was full of fantasies of a plentiful life full of surprises. The most important thing that the puritans included in their hopes for America was God’s approval and support. They believed that God supported them one hundred percent. Readers of “Huswifery” and “Upon the Burning of Our House” can unmistakably notice the puritans’ reliance on God. In “Huswifery,” Taylor uses metaphors such as, “Make me, O Lord, thy spinning wheele complete (Huswifery 1),” to show how he graciously hands himself over to God for Him to reform and purify his soul like a spinning wheel reforms wool into string.
A pure, clean soul is what the puritans work towards throughout their lives. In the poem, Taylor asks that his soul, acting like a spool, be spun in to new cloth, or a new and purified holy being. The poem shows how Taylor allows God to make him and “weave” him without any second thoughts. The puritans’ dependence on God is also shown in “Upon the Burning of Our House.” Anne Bradstreet describes her scene of her house burning down and her thoughts and mind-set during the fire. Once Bradstreet sees the flames, her first reaction is to ask God for strength; “I, starting up, the light did spy, / And to my God my heart did cry/ To strengthen me in my Distress (Upon 7-9).
” The modern-day American citizen would have complained and moaned the loss of all their belongings, but instead Bradstreet blesses God by saying, “And, when I could no longer look, / I blest his Name that gave and took (Upon 13-14).” As these two puritan poems demonstrate, the puritan American dream certainly included their stern faith in their Lord. The last and most important aspect of the puritan life, and their American dream is hard work. Three pieces of puritan literature in particular point out this strong work ethic and desire for excellence. Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “To My Dear and Loving Husband” tells the reader the effects of Anne’s husband’s dedication and continuous work as a spouse. As one can tell from Anne Bradstreet’s words, her husband treats her wonderfully and shows his love through his permanent affection.
The beliefs of the puritans included discipline and hard work, which shows through in the Bradstreet relationship. Hard work and endurance is also revealed in “The General History of Virginia.” The men work very hard setting up palisades and to set up the building blocks for the blossoming colony of Jamestown. Despite the lack of food and water, the men keep true to their work and get their tasks done properly and efficiently. Again, Bradstreet shows her hard work through “Huswifery.
” Hints of mourning peek through her prestige frugality in her poem; Bradstreet has to work hard to disguise her grief for the loss of her house and belongings. Lines twenty-six through twenty eight of “Huswifery” illustrate her sorrow: “There lay that store I counted best:/ My pleasant things in ashes lye, / And them behold no more shall I.” Crying for material good was not accepted in the puritan society; a few lines later in the poem, Bradstreet covers up her sinful feelings with “Adieu, Adieu; All’s vanity.” By saying goodbye and calling her lost possessions “vanity,” her poem is safe from getting her in trouble with her society. Anne Bradstreet and John Smith demonstrate the dedication and perseverance involved in the puritan’s American dream through their literary works. Having read these puritanic writings, one can appreciate the American dream believed by the puritans.
In the puritans’ dream, they had many new opportunities to seek and fulfill such as following their own religion and not having to follow the Church of England. Their vision also incorporated a stirring place full of adventure and excitement; John Smith and some of his fellow colonists being captured by Indians tickled people’s imaginations back in England. More importantly to their religious customs, God supported and sustained their growth and success just as Edward Taylor shows with his metaphors in “Huswifery.” The puritan ethic followed by the puritans included hard work to fulfill good deeds and self-discipline against all things sinful. The long days and hard tasks performed by the new settlers in the juvenile colony show their faith and dedication to their American dream. According to the interesting pieces of literature, the puritans expected America to fulfill their image of an abundance of opportunities and expeditions, God’s encouragement, and their standard, strict “Puritan ethic.”