Anne Bradstreet: The Heretical Poet



Greg Saxon
The purpose of this research is to discuss heretical elements in the
poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672). This is not to imply that Bradstreet was
a heretic in the sense that American religious reformer Anne Hutchinson was.
Hutchinson (1591-1643) emigrated to Boston in 1634 and preached a doctrine of
salvation through intuitive apprehension of grace rather than by works, and
attacked the rigid moral and legal codes of New England Puritanism. Anne
Bradstreet accepted the tenets of Puritanism and was a very religious person.
Anti-Puritan themes are, however, to be found in her poetry in terms of her
religious doubts, her expression of personal emotions and thoughts, and ...

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in that she did not dissent from
accepted beliefs and doctrine. She was a woman of the 17th Century and lived in
a male dominated, intensely religious society. She lived within the limitations
not only of the beliefs and standards of her society, but of her sex. A woman's
place was definitely in the home in Colonial America. The experiences of women
were considered narrow and trivial in comparison with men's.
Puritanism was more than a religious belief; it was a way of life. "In
the dozen years before 1640, some 15,000 Englishmen crossed the Atlantic in
order to establish a 'Holy Commonwealth' in which that way of life could
flourish"(Hall 1).
The Puritans were a party in the Church of England that arose in
Elizabeth's reign with the purpose of carrying out the Protestant reformation,
and to base the Church of England on the foundation of the scriptures. Aside
from a literal belief in the Bible, Puritans wholly accepted the doctrines of
John Calvin and his stern ...

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manifestations of intellectual life in the 17th Century,
was dominated by religion. Early New England verse was religious both in motive
and expression, and for the most part was didactic(Morison 216-217).
Anne Bradstreet was one of the two poets of early New England (Michael
Wigglesworth was the other) whose poetry has lasted.
Bradstreet was born in Northamptom, England. Her father Thomas Dudley
was steward of the estate of the Earl of Lincoln and it is presumed that she had
access to the large Library there, and used it. Unlike most young women, Anne
Bradstreet was well educated. At age 16 she married Simon Bradstreet, a
graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and steward of the ...

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Added: 8/29/2008 11:01:46 PM
Category: Biographies
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