Anne Bradstreet and Phyllis Wheatley: Pioneers for Women's Rights

1119 Words Dec 4th, 2010 5 Pages
Anne Bradstreet and Phyllis Wheatley: Pioneers for Women’s Rights

Anne Bradstreet (1600’s) and Phyllis Wheatley (1700’s) wrote poetry in two different centuries. Their topics, themes and the risks these women took in their writings are groundbreaking in that they paved the way for women’s rights today. Both women are known as the first published poets of the new world. Bradstreet’s writings were first published in 1650 and her poetry included controversial subjects such as the relationship between a husband and wife, displays of affection, and women who have made their place in society as leaders. These topics were not typical of women who were brought up a Puritans. In fact, the puritans did not approve of public displays of affection.
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This is where they differ greatly. Bradstreet challenges the Puritan beliefs while Wheatley embraces the Christian religion. Bradstreet’s poems that include subjects like the relationship between she and her husband, and Wheatley’s writings about slavery, freedom and religion put them in risky positions. Bradstreet risked the reputation of her husband as well as her family name because he was the governor of her community. Wheatley risked being punished for her writings because she was a slave. These risks did not stop either woman from speaking out against a world they felt was wrong because society dictated a women’s role, which was staying at home dealing with domestic things. Bradstreet and Wheatley use sarcasm and romantic tones in their poetry to convey their messages. They also used real life experiences to bring their point across to their audiences. In Bradstreet’s “The Poem” she writes: “now say have women worth? Or have they none? Or had they some but with our Queen is’t gone?”
She challenges women here to consider whether women are of any value to society now that Queen Elizabeth has passed away. She also challenges the men: “nay masculines, you have thus taxed us long. But she, though dead will vindicate our wrong.”
She addresses the men and she is telling them to be careful, that every wrong they have done

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