Puritanism in American Literature

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      In no other colony, the people were as intellectual as the Puritans of the New England. They formed the core of the Catholic religion. Between 1630 and 1690, there were as many college graduates in the northeastern section of the United States, (known as New England) as in the mother country - an astounding fact when one considers that most, educated people of the time were aristocrats who were unwilling to risk their lives in wilderness. The self-made and self-educated Puritans were notable exceptions. They wanted education only to understand and execute God’s will, they established their colonies throughout New England, their definition of good writing was that which brought home a full awareness of the importance of worshipping God of the spiritual dangers that the soul faced on Earth.

      The poetic style of the Puritan writers varied enormously from difficult metaphysical poetry to simple. It found in homely journals and crushingly pedantic religious records. Whatever the style or genre, certain religious themes remained undisturbed. The human life was Understood as a test, a failure in it led to the eternal damnation, and a success in it led to the blissful heaven. Their unshakable belief was that this secular world was of constant battle between the forces of God and the prices of the Satan. The Puritans excitedly awaited the “millennium,” when Jesus Christ would come back to the world (i.e., ‘The Second Coming’), to end human misery. They were anxious to inaugurate 1,000 years of peace and prosperity. The academics have long pointed out the in connection between the Puritanism and the capitalism. Both depend upon the emotions like, ambition, hard work, and an Intense spiritual striving for earthly success. Although individual Puritans could not have known in strictly theological terms whether they were the “saved” or not; and, among them, the ‘chosen’ would go to heaven. The Puritans inclined to feel that their earthly success was a sign of ‘divine’ election. The material wealth and social status were, sought not only for themselves but for God and religion. They are welcome promises of the spiritual health and eternal life in the life beyond.

      Moreover, the very concept of the stewardship encouraged the success in spiritual life. The Puritans interpreted all things as the symbols with spiritual meanings and felt sincerity that in advancing their own profit and their community’s well-being. They were also furthering divine plans. They also did not draw demarcating lines of difference between the secular and the religious circles. The whole life was an artistic expression of the divine will - a belief that later resurfaces in the ‘Transcendentalism’ - i.e., the spiritual movement in American literature. In recording ordinary events to reveal their spiritual meaning, the Puritan authors commonly cited the chapters and numerous verses from the Holy Bible. Therefore, it is History a symbolic religious panorama, leading to the triumph over the ‘new world’ and to God’s kingdom on Earth? In addition, the earth was imaginatively called an ‘earthly Paradise’.

      The first New England Puritan colonists exemplified the seriousness of the Reformation of the Christianity. They were known as the “Pilgrims” - a small group of believers who migrated from England to Holland - even then known for its religious tolerance. In 1608, they showed it during a time of persecutions. Like most Puritans, they interpreted the Holy Bible literally. They read out loudly and acted on the text of the Second Book of Corinthians - “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” They became despaired of purifying the Church of England from within, so they formed new group called the “Separatists” formed underground “covenanted” churches that swore loyalty to the group instead of the king. Seen as traitors to the king as well as heretics they were damned to hell. They were often persecuted New World. The writers who opposed the Puritan oligarchy are  - Anne Hutchinson, Thomas Morton and Roger Williams.

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