Tuesday, March 3, 2020



Block I: American Literature: The Puritans & the Enlightenment
Block II - III : American Fiction
Block IV: American Prose
Block V - VI : American Poetry 
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Block VII: American Short Story
Block VIII: American Drama
Block IX: Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye

Monday, August 20, 2018



The Quaker Context in American Literature, by the turbulent 1680s, in the aftermath of the republican experiment and before the Glorious Revolution, England and its empire were in the throes of numerous controversies over constitutional liberties and autocratic power. Against this backdrop arose a sect of Christians, inspired by a man named George Fox, who had turned away from every established church, Catholic, Anglican and Puritan in search of the true road to God. 

These were the Quakers. The Quakers believed that divine guidance was not to be found in any outward church, or even in the Bible (though the latter was of couke central to all faith). It was to be found in the voice of conscience, which is God's voice. Neither rituals nor clergy were needed. Even taking the sacraments in church was unnecessary. One's whole life was instead to be a continuing baptism, in the sense of resisting sensual evils, and a continuing communion, in the sense of a union with Christ. The purpose of a religious gathering, what the Quakers called a meeting, was to commune jointly, in silence, with the indwelling spirit. If a member felt called upon to rise and speak, he was to do so freely and without concern for his lack of clerical training. The Quakers were distrustful of learning, for they felt it led to the sin of pride in self. True preaching came not from a learned and arrogant ministry, they believed, but from within the body of the meeting in the persons of "god-called" ministers.
American Enlightenment 
The Quakers insisted upon living inviolate and orderly lives of thrift and frugality. Every person should have a "calling," a committed engagement to work in this world. Even in jail, the Quakers busily set about working at crafts and skills. These habits helped to make them well-to-do merchants, leading to the very best that they were people with one foot in the meeting house and the other in the counting house.
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But though the Quakers had a lot in common with the Puritans, the two sects held theological opinions opposed to one another. The Puritans were horrified by the Quakers belief in the perfectibility of all human beings. If there is evil in the world, declared the Quakers, it lies in external institutions of hierarchy, power and violence, not inside the human heart. Where Puritans thought of God as supreme authority, and in his image built strong institutions of government, in which the magistrate was ' central, the Quakers regarded God as absolute love, and in his image built a civil society without supervisory or superintending structures. Thus, the Quakers sought to apply the Sermon on the Mount in the most literal sense, creating a world of equality and fraternity here and now. They aided the poor and the destitute, and were the first to condemn slavery. They believed in complete equality between men and women--women had leading roles as charismatic leaders in the Quaker movement--as well as between everyone in society. They would not refer to anyone as "Mister" (which originally meant "master"), called the King "Charles" instead of "King Charles," and always used the familiar forms "thee" and "thou" instead of the more formal "you" in interpersonal conversation. Since "hat honor" was insisted upon in seventeenth century European life (inferiors always took off their head covering in the presence of superiors), Quakers wore theirs even in the king's presence.

The Quakers grew in numbers, reaching perhaps 60,000 by the 1680s, but this was in the face of sheer repression. It was common for a Quaker congregation to be fined thousands of pounds for not attending Anglican services, for Quakers by the thousands to be imprisoned or to have their livelihood denied them for not taking oaths. What they wanted, therefore, was to find a place of refuge abroad, some place in the king's empire where they might live in peace--and, they hoped, attract converts by the virtue and purity of their lives and religion. For years this searching went on, into the islands of the Caribbean and on the North American mainland.

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In 1674 a group of Quakers, including the gifted William Penn, joined to buy the western half of New Jersey as their place of settlement. As an oppressed minority they were acutely conscious of the need for guaranteed fundamental rights, and the constitution that William Penn wrote for West New Jersey--the Concessions and - agreement--was strikingly liberal. It established an annually elected assembly that was fully independent of the executive. 
Settlers were guaranteed full due process in confrontation of accusers, the right to cross-examination, and the admission of evidence), and trial by jury. There was to be neither life imprisonment nor capital punishment, both novel provisions centuries ahead of their age. Everyone in West Jersey was also guaranteed complete religious freedom, for there would be no established state church. Liberal land provisions were offered to attract settlers, and within a few years hundreds of settlers, mainly Quakers had arrived. (All of New Jersey became a royal colony in 1702, the two halves being merged under a unified government that was provided by New York Colony until 1738.)

A far grander "Holy Experiment" was set in motion in 1681. King Charles II had owed a large debt to William Penn's dead father, and to repay it he granted to William Penn--a close friend of the Duke of York--a huge proprietary colony (that is, Penn personally owned the land, and had absolute powers of government), Pennsylvania, including what is now Delaware, which had already been settled by Swedes and Dutch. Now, half a century after John Winthrop had taken his company of Puritan settlers to New England to begin their attempt at building a Utopian Christian society, Penn and the Quakers set out on a similar adventure. Pennsylvania was outstandingly prosperous from the beginning. Its rich farmlands attracted a constant stream of settlers, who produced a bountiful supply of food to be sold abroad. Philadelphia was quickly settled by experienced merchants from London and from towns elsewhere in the colonies. By the mid-eighteenth century they had made Philadelphia the third commercial city in the British Empire, after London and Bristol. Through personal religious ties, Quaker merchants had contacts all over the North Atlantic commercial world, from Germany to the Caribbean. It was not uncommon for an intermarried network of merchants to connect Madeira, London, Barabados, Newport, and New York, and then work together in assisting one another.
In London it there was a vigorous community of Quaker merchants who aided their counterparts in Philadelphia. In the same letters they sent, along with denominational news, reports on crops, prices and finances also. Pennsylvania's wealthy men soon invested in western lands, reselling at higher prices to incoming farmers. Many of them sought land for the same reason that the aristocracy did in England did--to provide social eminence as well as income. Quaker merchants also were not long in starting to build iron foundries. Because of this, Pennsylvania has been uniquely identified with the metals trade since the colonial days. Based upon this and other enterprises, an aristocracy grew up in Pennsylvania comparable to that of the planters in the Chesapeake and Carolina colonies, the patroons in the Hudson valley and the merchant princes of Boston.

However, though they were so like the Puritans in their ways of living (if not in their religious beliefs), in one great particular they differed--they could abide dissent. Indeed, allowing people to dissent, and to believe in and practice their own different faiths in their own diverse ways, was the bedrock of the Quakers' social policy. In turn, this principle would create so great a babble of creeds and sects in their colony of Pennsylvania that their own distinctive identity would be lost.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

The American Enlightenment

The Material Basis of The American Enlightenment

The American Enlightenment, by the early 1700s two distinct economic worlds had taken shape in the colonies, generally north and south of Pennsylvania's southern border. One exported two crops, rice and tobacco, to Europe, and was in the process of constructing all its ways of living and thinking around a unique institution: chattel slavery. The other consisted overwhelmingly of, not the big planters such as those who owned the tobacco and rice plantations but, of small farmers free of feudal obligations to anyone superior to them. These two societies were unlike anything in the British Isles or in Europe as a whole.
The distinction between the southern and the northern colonies gradually began to be erased with the expansion of agricultural activities in the north to the extent that the colonies there started exporting their produce, contrary to their earlier practice, to the colonies in the south and beyond, to the West Indies. To facilitate this emerging commerce, by the 1720s a common-paper currency was floated, bringing with it prospects of profit and riches. Soon, the placid colonies were living through a boom period. At the hub of this boom was the new-look colonial city, no longer an extension of the countryside that it once used to be. Immigrants were beginning to pour in from Germany and Ireland in the 1720s, and thousands of slaves were being purchased in Literature the South.
A high-rate of survival among American-born white children, who were reared in far healthier surroundings than children in Europe--eight live children in a family, as against four in Europe, was common--accelerated the rise of population, as did a relatively low death rate. In 1700 there had been approximately 250,000 people in the colonies. By 1775 there would be about 2,250,000 (and 5,300,000 by 1800) including people belonging to the indigenous tribes. A modem, multicultural America was in the making.
Transatlantic trade flourished, and settlement slowly but surely stretched beyond the limited coastal beach lands of the seventeenth century into the fertile back country, soon reaching the Appalachian Mountains and entering their long interior valleys. With mounting affluence and influence, people, books and ideas moved back and forth across the Atlantic in rising volume.

The American Enlightenment

American Enlightenment , One of the many fascinating imports flowing into America from Europe after 1700 was a new way of thinking about God, nature, and humanity: the American Enlightenment. Founded in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, and especially in the work of towering English thinkers, like the physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727), American Enlightenment thought was consciously scientific, rational and this-worldly. As such, Enlightenment thinking became for a small minority of educated Americans a critique as well as a counter to classic, traditional Protestantism. Henceforth, these two ways of thinking would inter-mingle in the American mind, producing a curious and contradictory blend of theistic belief and sceptical humanism.

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In the American Enlightenment The New Learning arrived with a dramatic suddenness in 1714, when Yale received a gift of books on Newtonian physics and Lockean philosophy Newton simply wiped away the traditional view of the universe, brilliantly demonstrating how a few laws of physics could explain the motions of all heavenly bodies. The marvelous order and harmony, he believed, was the dearest possible demonstration of God's existence and authenticity, and of His real intentions for humans as well as natural life. Educated people who read Newton no longer saw the universe as controlled by an infinite number of spirits, each with its own planet, star, or comet to supervise. The sky seemed swept clean. All was geometry, calculation and predictability.

In The American Enlightenment, The universe was not a space of mysteries and uncertainties. It was, above all, a reasonable universe. John Locke applied this way of thinking so pervasively in political and social and human affairs that he became the preeminent philosophical influence in the eighteenth century thought, especially in America. He was fascinated by the power of reason, though he did not think it all-powerful. A moderate man in everything, he held that some things could never be explained by humanity's reasoning powers, that there were limits to what we could know on our own. About God, for example, he said we could know little, other than that He is the author of the universe and a pervasive influence in human life. People therefore need the Bible, Locke said, for only in revelation from God could they learn essential truths about the divine that reason, unaided, could never reveal. However, he believed true Christianity consisted of only a few essentials, and therefore he not only urged, but exemplified, a wide toleration of all Protestant beliefs. An archetypal product of the American Enlightenment was the figure of Benjamin Franklin (1706- 1790). Franklin represented the essence of the Enlightenment--in his celebration of rationality, practical conduct and materialism. A self-made man and a man of science, Franklin characteristically expressed a preference for what his contemporaries called "natural religion" or deism.

Benjamin Franklin

The West's Benjamin Franklin experimenting of American Enlightenment with electricity has look of wizardry. "Reasonable" method in religion, therefore, according to them, called for a simple procedure: discover what things all people (that is, all "civilized" people) believe in, American Enlightenment wherever they are. By this means, true religion could be found. This came down to a belief in a supreme deity, God; in a code of ethics divinely established, which tells us how to live; and a belief that there is an afterlife in which people will receive their rewards and punishments for their deeds in this world. Church, rituals and miracles were simply local superstitions and wholly unnecessary. Some people were not ready to go so far. They believed that Christ, the ultimate miracle, was an expression, in some inexplicable way, of God's desires in this world. But they rejected the concept of the Trinity ("God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost") as not only mathematically paradoxical, but also contrary to natural law. Christ was a man, perhaps a divinely inspired one, but not God Himself The American Enlightenment.

There was only one God, they said: thus, these people were called Unitarians. The Bible remained important to them as a book of divine teachings about how we should live b with each other. Unitarians believed each person must rely upon his or her own reasoning powers, keeping in mind that there was little that could be certain in religious matters. They believed that the individual is fundamentally good, and that if all persons listened to the voice of conscience they would be listening to the voice of God. Unitarianism circulated as a kind of underground faith in England in the mid eighteenth century, prominent among scientists and intellectuals. It came to America in the century's late years; most of America's Founding Fathers, including Franklin, would have called themselves Unitarians. Another notable figure of the American Enlightenment was S.t. Jean de Crevecouer (1735- 1813). A friend of Benjamin Franklin and a truly Franklinian character, this French-born emerge used his classic Letters From  An American Farmer (1782) to celebrate the "enlightened" practice of democracy in America. The Franklinian aspect of Crevecouer's work is most readily apparent in the "American Farmer's" enthusiastic approbation of the values of individualism and industriousness which formed the basis of the existence of a freeholder such as himself.
As the revival progressed, all colonials awaited New England's reaction, for that region had long been recognised as America's foremost "plantation of religion." It was the emergence of Jonathan Edwards (1 703- 1748) at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1734 and 1735 that seemed too many to be the real beginning of the American revival. In New England, where there was much anxiety about rising affluence, individualism, and the breakup of old ways, the underlying tension exploded with especial violence. Enthusiasm achieved unmatched heights, reaching near delirium in its early stages.

Edwards Calvinism

Edwards utilized this enthusiasm and recast Calvinism to align with revivalism, thus becoming the most important Puritan theologian since John Calvin himself the joy of the Great Awakening, he said, was good and proper. It was a delight that rushed in on people as their entire beings reacted to the love of God and to the beauties He had created in this world. But Edwards was a true Calvinist. God, in his mind, was still the blazing awesome, all-powerful, and wholly majestic Being who willed all things and was the centre of faith. Considering the perfection of God, Edwards said, people could see in contrast how prideful, lustful, and selfish they were in their self-centred, petty lives. Consider the universe that God had made, how harmonious and perfect it was; consider the beauties of the natural creation, of all that was of God. Astonished and overwhelmed by all this people would be drawn to God, as in nature all things were drawn by gravitation to a common centre.

The American Woman of The 18th  Century

The American Enlightenment, The irrationality of blatant race-oppression was matched by the irrationality of subtle gender-discrimination in eighteenth century America. The codes of gender discrimination, in fact, were inbuilt into the structure of the colonial American family. The form of family which the colonials brought with them from Britain was much like that familiar to modem Americans: nuclear family, in which husband and wife and their children formed a household. Land was generally granted to the head of the household--the father. As the generations passed and the original tight village communities of the early colonial phase broke apart, families tended to live in separate, isolated homesteads.
By the 1750s, intermarriage between households in thousands of small towns and villages in the northern colonies had built a strong network of relationships which helped to make community life stronger than it had been. Nonetheless, nuclear families remained the basic social units in colonial life. Within the family, the need to be almost entirely self-sufficient made for a close interdependence between husbands and wives. There was no question which of the two was legally and morally superior. Male supremacy was the rule (which is not the same as saying it was a law of nature).
This was expressed most dramatically in the possession of land by men, not by women (unless they became widowed), since land was the economic basis of almost all life. Women and men usually worked separately, the one in the house and the kitchen garden, the other in the fields and with the livestock, but the two activities flowed into a single economic unit. Broadly, men's work centred around farming while women's work centred around manufacturing, The American Enlightenment.

Women preserved the vegetables and salted the meats, brewed the beer and pressed the cider. In addition they wove cloth, made wool and sewed dresses. They also dipped candles, and cared for family health by preparing home remedies and soap. Preparing meals was but the last stage in the manufacturing process, and this was done in addition to the routine tasks of bearing and rearing children.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Puritans | American Literature


The Puritans were certainly not the first inhabitants, not even the first settlers from Europe in the American continent. A voyage of exploration and discovery starting with that of the Italian sailor Christopher Colombo (better known as Christopher Columbus) in 1491 found its way, by accident or intention, to the shores of what was later to be called America. These voyages extended for over a century, but till the 1580s none of them, or so records suggest, were manned by Englishmen. Englishmen were resolutely engrossed in their internecine conflicts through these decades, and it was as late as 1584 that Sir Walter Raleigh dispatched an English ship to investigate if it was possible to colonize other lands: Another attempt took off in 1606, and in this instance the energetic intruders decided to establish a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, named after their Virgin Queen. The settlement however, suffered from many disasters. Homesickness, epidemics, deaths--the list of troubles encountered by the earliest English settlers in America were many.

The Chesapeake, the "Red Indians" of the region, instigated by their illustrious leader, Powhatan, resented the coming of the outsiders. They thought that the English, in not organizing any agricultural activities on English lands, needlessly exploited their resources and exertions. Skirmishes ensued soon. The English were especially savage in their assaults, especially because they were extremely dependent upon these people whom they despised and therefore determined to demonstrate an abs~ &lute superiority over them. In order to punish a haughty tribe, the English would I: sort to mass massacre of its members. Some Englishmen had a tendency to wander off to stay with the relatively affluent Indians, with their organized and abundant food supplies, or to trade with them. The Jamestown authorities burned, flayed and killed their own people. Meanwhile, thousands of settlers died from starvation and illnesses. To save the declining Virginia settlement, the Virginia Company, which had sponsored the settlement in the first place, soon realized that the colonists had to be given a personal interest in what they were doing. They would not work hard to raise food for the company itself the power of individual enterprise had to be put to work. In return for a small annual quit rent, settlers were allowed to take up size able tracts of land to farm for themselves. The time of hardships was soon at an end. Then, in 1619 a legislative body allowed the Virginia settlers, to own and cultivate the land which transformed them from unimportant employees of an old company to significant citizens of new country. The tobacco crop planted experimentally in 1612 yielded such high profits from London that by 1620 an amazing "gold rush" was under way for tobacco land. At last, Virginia appeared to be evolving into a prosperous settlement. Up north, towards the eastern edge of the American continent in the meanwhile, the first Puritan fleet, transporting its four hundred devout souls, sailed around the tip of Cape Cod and stationed itself finally at the Plymouth harbour off Massachusetts Bay.
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The first settlers who came to Massachusetts thus in 1620 to found a dedicated community were the Pilgrims. Fleeing from the hardened depravities of the Old World to the New World, they established their homesteads in an obscure stretch close to Plymouth. Ten years later came the Great Puritan Migration from England, followed by an astonishingly numerous rabble bringing thousands of settlers, the largest single expedition of English people in the seventeenth century. Puritan settlements sprang up at Dorchester, Boston, Watertown, Roxbury, Mystic and Lynn. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was now fully launched. By 1640, religious sectarianism surfaced, forcing renegades or rebels to abandon Massachusetts to develop Rhode Island, which was chartered in 1644. Others, enticed by fantasies of fabled affluence left for richer haunts southward to the west of the Connecticut River. In 1639 certain towns had already adopted the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut as the colony's constitution. By 1662 a royal charter had been issued that authenticated Connecticut's independent status. The earliest settlements emerged in New Hampshire in 1623. After endless debate between ambitious English agents and Massachusetts authorities, it became an autonomous. Territory of the Crown. The status of Maine, which had been settled in the 1630s, was troubled likewise until 1691, when it was made part of Massachusetts. At the end of the century, New England, as the entire region was named, was a flourishing new enclave within the English empire.


Indian History that many sects like Buddhism and Jainism sprang up as a protest against the abuses of Brahminicsal rituals and ceremonies which they found were devoid of true spiritual change. Similarly Puritanism, as Perry Miller has remarked in his classic study on the subject, began as an agitation within the Church of England in the latter half of the sixteenth century. It was a movement for reform of that institution, and as such hardly an alternative denomination to Anglicanism, which was the dominant theology. In the 1530's the Church of England had broken with the Roman Catholic Church. By the inception of Elizabeth 1's reign in 1558, it had proceeded a certain distance in this revolt, had become Protestant, had disestablished the monasteries and rectified many Papist abuses. Puritanism was the belief that the reform should be continued, that more abuses remained to be corrected, that practices still survived from the days of Papacy which should be renounced, that the Church of England should be restored to the "purity" of the first-century Church as established by Christ Himself.
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In the 1560s, when the advocates of purification first acquired the name of Puritans, no one, not even the most radical, knew exactly how far the process was to go or just what the ultimate goal would be. Down to the days of the so-called Puritan Revolution there was never any agreement on this point, and in the end this failure of unanimity proved to be the undoing of English Puritanism. Many Puritans desired that only certain ceremonies be abolished or changed. Others wanted ministers to preach more sermons, make up their own prayers on the inspiration of the moment rather than read set forms out of a book. Others went proposed a revision of the whole form of ecclesiastical government. But whatever the shade or complexion of their Puritanism, Puritans were those who wanted to continue a movement which was already underway. Their opponents, the Anglicans, were those who felt that with the enthronement of Elizabeth I and with the "Elizabethan Compromise" within the Church, things had gone far enough.

The Elizabethan Compromise
The Elizabethan Compromise, according to the Anglicans, had adequately eliminated the excesses of Roman Catholicism. They wanted to call a halt, just where they were, and stabilize at that point. Thus the issue between the two views, though large enough, still involved only a limited number of questions. On everything except matters upon which the Puritans wanted further reform, there was essential agreement. The Puritans who opted to go to New England were among the more extreme--though by no means the most extreme that the movement produced. Even before their departure in 1620 they had gone to the lengths of formulating a concrete platform of church organization which they wished to see instituted in England in lieu of the episcopal system.
By the 1620, the Puritans had moved the Church of England a long way toward their way of thinking, but then a startling reversal occurred. The new king, Charles I working with those who disagreed with the Puritans, initiated a determined counteroffensive.
  • First, the Anglicans, supported by the monarch, managed to maintain the episcopal system.
  • Second, ,they sustained the existing infrastructure for devotional services--elegant attire for the priest, glorious objects of gold and coloured glass in use during worship, the altar itself treated as a site of almost miraculous significance.
  • Third, the prayers of the Prayer Book, and the sacraments, were venerated by the The Puritan Context Anglicans as the centre of all worship--especially communion, for it represented the Body of Christ.

The Puritans
The Puritans were shocked to witness these, what they thought to be, retrogressive tendencies within the church, and even more appalled when hundreds of priests who resisted them were dismissed from their pulpits. Like everyone else, Puritans believed that the Church of England was the driving force, the very centre of national life. If it were corrupted, chaos itself would descend upon the country. England, the Puritans asserted, was in an anarchic condition. There was disorder and discord all over: gambling, whoring, thievery, rape and murder were routine occurrences. Excessive self-indulgence and self-gratification seemed to have become the norms of social conduct.

 The Puritans articulated the emergent bourgeois ethos which celebrated temperance, caution, thrift and hard work. They held that God the Father, who must punish even as he protects, would surely not tolerate the sins of his children and would chastise them by sending down plagues and other disasters. Only when England possessed a fully purified church, the Puritans said, would God cease punishing the English for their sins. The Anglicans pointed out that by law the king and his officers of the Church of England were entitled to take all decisions in religious matters and insisted that everyone's duty was to obey them, not to grumble and grimace. All agitation ought to halt. The Puritans, tenacious and stubborn, refused to oblige. To listen to humans masquerading as God's ministers would be tantamount to bringing back to the Church of England that "vast suffocating fog" of Papist superstition and irrationality that the Protestant Reformation was supposed to have swept away. Across the English Channel on the European continent this was the period when the powerful armies of Roman Catholic monarchs were sweeping from victory to victory as the Counter Reformation against Protestantism launched by the Roman Catholic Church mounted in enthusiasm. Suspicious Puritans then alleged that what the Anglicans were doing was part of a covert Roman Catholic conspiracy, working through the king and his followers, to destroy Protestantism in England. But still more fundamental to their differences was the Anglican and the Puritan argument over the nature of mankind. To the Puritans, human beings in their "natural" condition are totally depraved, their reason effectively impaired by their passion. If any are "saved"--forgiven their sins and going to heaven--it is entirely because God has willed it so, not because of anything that individual persons may have done on their own.

The Anglicans recoiled from all this. They believed, of course, that human beings are all sinners, but also that God has made them discriminating creatures. Ethical choice, they said, is "the candle of the Lord." Thus, to some degree we have a free will; that is, we do have a role in deciding our personal destinies. The Anglicans believed that lf we choose to live In God's way, take the sacraments regularly, and accept the salvation that a benign God has offered to all, we are saved. The important thing was not so much what faith we had, but how we treated each other. Certainly we must love God, as the First Table of the Ten Commandments decreed, but equally important were some other questions. These were what the last six of the Ten Commandments--the Second Table-- called for, and it was here that Anglicans laid their stress. The Puritans emphasized upon the first four of the Ten Commandants--the First Table--which ordered humanity to revere God and to glorify Him and to have no other thing or person in their lives before Him. The dilemma was that human beings were so naturally rotten, their passion so predominant upon their reason, that every instinct and inclination turned them away from God. They chose evil knowingly.


The historian Francis Jennings has rightly written about the Puritan migration into America that the "so-called settlement of America was a resettlement, a reoccupation of a land made waste by the diseases and demoralization introduced by the newcomers." The obliteration of the Old cultures of the New World by the new entrants from the Old World only partially explains however the emergence of Puritanism as the hegemonic American ideology. The Puritans were extremely self-conscious who made a fetish of recording their experiences in the New World even as they were undergoing the experiences. John Winthrop was certainly not the only Puritan to write a journal noting in detail the day-to-day episodes of his adventures on alien shores. The ability to write, indeed, was supposed to be the mark of the civilization of the European traveler. Correspondingly, (from the European point of view) the unlettered aboriginals, the Indians, and slaves, the Africans brought in as chattel labor a little later, were either written down in or written out of the Puritan narratives.
The first motif is that America was utterly savage, in the state the Puritans encountered it. It was virtually uninhabitable and by extension uninhabited. The second is that whatever it was and whatever it was to become, America had nothing to do with Europe. America, in other words, was to become what the Puritans wished it to become. Before the Puritans, writes Bradford, lay a wild landscape such as no civilized people had ever encountered, and "if they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they passed and [which] was now a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world." Not even the ship lying at anchor qualifies this absolute separation,' for the captain daily threatens to leave. The Puritans are certainly in need of the Lord's support as their plight is worse than that of "the Apostle and his shipwrecked company" to whom "the barbarians showed, no small kindness in refreshing them."

The savages the Puritans met, Bradford's chronicle distinguishes itself from other early American texts by featuring natives who are ferociously against the whites of Plymouth Plantation, as Bradford's call to the children of the fathers makes explicit, consciously invents a historical tradition. The most important of these terms are re-definitions of wilderness and civilization and the opposition between them. On the one hand, the wilderness is without trace of any cultivation. On the other hand, precisely in its untouched character, it is the site of a potentially exceptional construction.

Simultaneously, civilization, in Bradford's account, acquires a strange ambiguity. The civilization left forever by the Puritans is suggestive of great accomplishments no doubt. But it is also an abode of destructive viciousness. The final impression that Bradford's book leaves on the reader about the apparent polarities of civilization and wilderness is not one of contrast; the situations curiously resemble one another. They are like mirror images rather than like antithetical

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