JohnWinthrop and Anne Bradstreet were influential Puritans who lived inthe sixteenth century. Winthrop was an affluent attorney and one ofthe major contributors to the establishment of the Massachusetts BayColony. He led a big wave of English immigrants in 1630, as well asheld the gubernatorial seat of the twelve initial colonies for twodecades. He was a visionary leader as the writings from his personaljournal, famously known as “City upon a Hill” significantlyinfluenced the development of New England colony, as well asreligions and governments of the adjacent colonies. In 1629, KingPhilips prompted him to join the Massachusetts Bay Company after heintensified attacks on nonconformist religion enthusiasts. On theother hand, Anne Bradstreet was a poet, a wife, mother and daughterof a wealthy Puritan family that migrated to America with JohnWinthrop’s first group. She was married to a significant politicalfigure who traveled occasionally. This implies that she often facedhardships, as she did several household responsibilities despite herpoor health state. The objective of this paper is observing thesimilarities and differences of Winthrop and Bradstreet’s Puritanreligious views, as well the relevance of the perceptions in themodern world.
Winthropwas a legalist. He believed in the Puritan religion, which was aseparatist faction of the Church of England. He was among theseparating-puritans since he immigrated to America where they couldexercise the religion freely. He overemphasized on legal ideas anddiscipline of character. His religion philosophy portrayed contentionof imprudent pride, rigor, ignorance, neglect of mercy andsuperficiality. He believed that for a person to receive salvation,he or she had to follow the established laws strictly. The assumptionconflicted with the Church of England since it emphasized that thespirit was substantial for humans to receive salvation. His strictlegalist political and religious view made him, and otherMassachusetts’ leaders to expel Antinomian believers such as AnneHutchinson. Antinomian faith advocated that people could remain insalvation even if they are not following legal laws strictly.
AnneBradstreet’s religious perception was similar to John Winthrop asboth were Puritans. This means that she believed in the Puritan’slifestyle values, including the perception that the Bible is theultimate authority (Bremer 107). In addition, they believed thatGod’s grace determines an individual’s salvation and humans areintrinsically evil. Winthrop and Bradstreet also advocateddifferentiation between the church and state.
Onthe contrary, Bradstreet’s accounts differ from Winthrop’sperceptions because the latter’s journal entries were based onother people. For example, he wrote about the trials of Mrs.Hutchinson and Roger Williams, as well as the challenges theyexperienced in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was one of the courtofficials that supported that the defenders should be banished fromthe colony for supporting antinomianism ideals. “There was greathope that the late general assembly would have had some good effectin pacifying the troubles and dissensions about matters of religion,but it felt out otherwise. For though Mr. Wheelwright and those ofhis party had been clearly confuted and confounded in the assembly,yet they persisted in their opinions, and were as busy in nourishingcontentions (the principal of them) as before (Bremer 117).”However, Bradstreet was against the banishing of the Mrs. Hutchinsonand Mr. Williams. She demonstrated her resistance through her poetry.She had feminist ideologies, but feared exercising them in public, asshe feared reprisal consequences that befell Mrs. Hutchinson.“Bradstreet was a devout Christian, a dutiful daughter, wife, andmother, but also a woman and a poet who pushed against theexpectations of male authorities, secular and religious (Bradstreetand Ellis 134).” Her poetry often broke the Puritan traditions asshe used it as a tool for expressing her love to her husband, as wellas criticizing the society. On the other hand, poetry was devoted topromoting religious values in colonial America. This was a subtlestrategy of resisting against the male dominated society. Sheexpressed her ideas without showing direct resistance to thepolicymakers like Mrs. Hutchinson (Cain et al.12).
Bradstreet’sreligious views of the Massachusetts colony differs from Winthrop inthat she mainly focuses on her emotional attitude towards Puritanismand politics. She advocated women’s equality to men. “I amobnoxious to each carping tongue/ Who says my hand a needle betterfits./ A poet`s pen all scorn I should thus wrong, /For such despitethey cast on female wits: (Bradstreet and Ellis 136).” On thecontrary, Winthrop’s journal entries are objective hence, readerscan conclude that he supports Puritanism. He advocated that God’sgrace influenced personal salvation and people are inherent sinnerswhile the Bible is the highest authority. Bradstreet believed opposedthe premise that God’s grace influenced personal salvation, thusthe reason she used poetry to express her personal emotions insteadof promoting religious values (Cain et al. 59).
Thetwenty-first century religious life and views are similar to somepuritan ideologies such as humans are naturally evil hence, theyneed to repent to be accepted by God. Besides, repentance offers aconstant method that people can use to reconcile with God each timethey go astray. In addition, Christians still believe that God’sgrace is valuable for humans to receive eternal salvation (Cain etal. 91). However, modern Christianity values do contrast withPuritanism religion philosophy as it advocates equality for both menand women. In addition, many states are associated with givendominant religions, but people’s beliefs are independent ofstatutory political ideologies. Modern Christianity advocatestolerance as it allows believers to interact with people from otherfaiths freely (Bremer 117).
Inconclusion, John Winthrop was a strong believer of Puritanism, eventhough his journal is written from an objective view. He was amongthe key decision-makers and founders of the Massachusetts colonythus, he contributed to making the Puritanism affiliated laws thatdirect the colony’s leadership. For Anne Bradstreet, she was apassive feminist who used her poetry skills to criticize theMassachusetts colony administration program instead of promotingreligion values, as it was the norm back then. Instead, she writespoems intended to express her emotions, devotion to her husband andthe values women deserved in the colony.
Cain,William E., Lance Newman, Alice McDermott, and Hilary E. Wyss. 2nded. Vol. 1. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2014. Print.
Bremer,Francis J. JohnWinthrop: Biography As History.New York: Continuum, 2009. Print.
Bradstreet,Anne, and John H. Ellis. TheWorks of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse.Charlestown, Mass: A.E. Cutter, 1980. Print.