Essay on Purtian Men and Women in Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet

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Purtian Men and Women in Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet

Crossing the Atlantic, Puritans faced not only the physical hardships of an uncultivated land, but also difficulties within the structure of their religion. In "The Puritan Dilemma," Edmund Morgan details the contradicting tenets of Puritanism. Puritans were to seek salvation even though they were “helpless to do anything but evil”; they were to rely entirely on Christ for salvation even though salvation was only possible if preordained by God (7). Additionally, in the Puritan paradigm, the relationship between Christ and the church was analogous to that of husband and wife. Husbands took pre-eminence over wives, just as Christ reigned supreme over His flock. This
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As devout Puritans, Taylor and Bradstreet certainly understood the corresponding ties between Christ and His people and between husbands and wives. If Puritanism were a ladder, Christ lounged leisurely at the top, men rested in the middle, and women clung to the bottom rung, with their fingers perhaps stepped on by over-zealous husbands. The varying positions of Taylor and Bradstreet in this Puritan hierarchy are made manifest in their poetic works.

Taylor’s “Prologue” to his Preparatory Meditations seeks God’s guidance in writing. He aims to glorify God through writing, but realizes his inability to do so without divine assistance. Equating himself with a “Crumb of Dust” throughout the poem, Taylor acknowledges his inferiority (239). He acclaims the superiority of God in stanza two, declaring that not even a pen possessing “an Angels Quill” and “dipt in Liquid Gold” could write “Unless thou mak’st the Pen, and Scribener” (239). Taylor weaves this theme through the whole poem, acknowledging his position under God and as His inferior, seeking God’s approval. He asks the Lord’s pardon for his poor attempts at glorifying His greatness, praying “That thou wilt guide [a Crumb of Dust’s] pen to write aright” (240).

A man’s relationship with God is further explored in Taylor’s “Huswifery.” An extended metaphor throughout the text relates Christ to the bridegroom in a holy bond with His servant. Praying for Christ to “make [his]

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