After reading and analyzing poems by Anne Bradstreet and Jonathan Edwards, although it is quite clear that they have many similar religious beliefs and similar base, Puritanism, it is obvious that there is a huge gap in belief between the two authors. Edward's writing takes Puritanism to its extremities whereas Bradstreet's works show a conventional view in the religion while still staying true to it. Born in Northhampton, England, in 1612, Anne Bradstreet grew up in a Puritan society, where women were considered their husband’s property limited inside the household serving their husbands.
Marriage was a significant role to women among Puritans. People believed that marriage was a gift by god. The Puritan religion and their society believed that the women’s place in society should be limited to a wife and a mother. Being a part of such society, Anna believed that God would be there for you, even during bad times. She had good faith in god. She never gave up her faith, even though times were not good. Although Anne did not ignore her Puritan role or duties, she did receive harsh criticism for her works.
During this time, women were judged intellectually inferior to men, yet Anne had become one of the greatest, influential writers of her time. Similarly, talking about Jonathan Edward, he was born into a Puritan evangelical household on October 5, 1703, in East Windsor, Connecticut. He was America’s most important philosophical theologian and greatest intellectuals. He was a theologian best known for his role in the first great awakening. He spoke quietly and softly in most of his sermons, drawing his audiences to conclusion with his emotional appeals.
His words painted a graphic picture that was very fear provoking and meant to awaken his audience. He believed that if you were bad, you went hell; if you were reborn you went hell. He believes that we have to do, what god wants us to do. He is the master and we are all substantially bad. He also believes god is the only thing keeping people from hell, and he is angry because people would not thank him for his miraculous works. Bradstreet was bothered by the gender bias that prevailed during her time; the belief was that a woman's place was in the home, attending to the family and fulfilling her husband's needs.
Women were often considered intellectually inferiors, which made the critics believed that Bradstreet stole her ideas for her poems from men. Her writing was severely criticized because it was that of a woman, receiving a different kind of criticism than that of her male counterparts. Similarly, public also showed harsh reaction to Bradstreet's role as a female writer. When her first publication of “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America” was released, the idea that she was a virtuous women had to be stressed.
Another theme in Bradstreet's works was her religious experiences. In her writing, Bradstreet gives an insight of Puritan views of salvation and redemption. She writes about how she feels that God has punished her through sicknesses and domestic problems. The Puritans believed that suffering was god's approach of preparing the human heart for accepting his grace. This idea inundated Bradstreet, and she wrote about how she struggled to do everything that she could to give into her will, in order to save her wandering soul.
However, she thought that God was so hard on her because her soul was so much in love with the world. She doubted god’s existence bothered by scriptures miracles. Anne’s faith came through her experience in life. She believes god gives you a chance at everything you have. She also wrote some poems, where she asked God to watch over her children and husband. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" conveys a very extreme viewpoint of God, that of Jonathan Edwards. According to Edwards, humanity is naturally plagued with sin, despite our ongoing efforts to overcome it.
Throughout his sermon, Edwards goes on endlessly about how God shows such mercy in not throwing all of humanity to the deepest depths of hell by the very earth itself. Edwards said in the sermon, “You hang by slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it as under, and you have no interest in any mediator, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing to lay hold off to same yourself, nothing that you have done, nothing you can do, to induce god to spare you one moment. Edwards decided to present a highly devout system of worshipping god, whereas Bradstreet went with a conventional approach and simply restated the traditional beliefs of the puritan society and how it held up in her life. She does not reiterate in her poems that god will condemn humanity unless they show piousness. Bradstreet views God as “that mighty architect” and conveys him as a merciful creator. In direct contrast to that Edward’s view god shows him as the merciless ruler” and that god is poised to “destroy the sinner”.
These contrasting points of view help distinguish each author’s religious beliefs. As a conclusion, by reading the works of Bradstreet and Edwards, we see the differences and similarities formed in their beliefs. Their difference is Edwards preaches the word in a harsh format that makes people come to Christ because Jonathan scares them into Religion. Bradstreet is in belief that god will bless you as long as your obedient in his words.
If people disobey in god’s word, then god can take many of your wonderful blessings away. Edwards views God as hating us, being repulsed by us, and having all the desire and ability required to kill us. Anne Bradstreet views God much less harshly. Their similarities are their beliefs in Christ and how to be obedient in him. They were both American writers with a common characteristic in their writings. Both of these puritan writers have strong thoughts about religion and did not hold back those thoughts in their writings.