Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative Essay

1422 words - 6 pages

The Puritans played a large role in early American history and society. Most Puritans escaped the tyrannical rule in England to gain religious freedom in America, which helped create an early American society. Not only did the Puritans help form the early American society and religion, they also contributed to the earliest stories and narratives to help create a rich literary history for America. Puritan literature has helped many scholars and readers learn about early American history. One of the most famous American narratives is from Mary Rowlandson, who was the wife of a Puritan Minister. Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative is about her story of how she was captured and treated by Native American captors. Throughout the narrative Mary intertwined her experience with her Puritan beliefs. The narrative has helped gain a better historical understanding of the struggle of power between the English Colonies and the Native Americans, as well as providing the reader with a basic understanding of Puritan beliefs. While Mary Rowlandson’s narrative is about her survival experience with the Native Americans, the narrative helps expose Puritan theology and Puritan thoughts toward Native Americans.
Mary Rowlandson constantly quotes the Bible during her captivity narrative, as well as giving praise to God in helping her overcome trials. Since the captivity narrative was written after the captivity experience, it is not clear whether or not Mary was well versed in the Bible before the incident, though she probably was due to her husband being a Puritan Pastor. It becomes apparent that Mary was not the best or most devout Puritan before her experience with the Native Americans. Mary recounted, “I then remembered how careless I had been of God’s holy time; how many Sabbaths I had lost and misspent, and how evilly I had walked in God’s sight . . . that it was easy for me to see how righteous it was with God to cut off the thread of my life and cast me out of his presence forever. Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and upheld me” (Derounian 12-51). While her prior life might have been, “evil” in the sight of God, her experience with the Native Americans made her more religious. The passage also shows that God, according to the Puritans, is a very strict God. He does not tolerate evil acts, and requires that His followers obey His will, or they will be cut off from his presence and blessings. God is so intolerant of sin and evil, that Mary accepted that it was ok for God to take way her children and her lifestyle. On the other hand, God, according to the Puritans, is also merciful to His own people. At the end of the phrase, Mary stated that God showed mercy to her by helping her through her afflictions. Also, Mary again stated how merciful her God was in her following statement, “Now hath God fulfilled that precious Scripture which was such a comfort to me in my distressed condition” (Derounian 12-51). According to Mary, God is strict,...

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