Mary Rowlandson Essay

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The Faith and Feminism of Mary Rowlandson Mary Rowlandson was the first woman to compose and publish an account of Indian captivity during Colonial times. Her deeply spiritual story vividly detailing her experiences as a hostage created a new genre of American literature called captivity narratives. While living in the colony of Massachusetts, she was the wife of a Puritan minister with three children and had an extremely strong faith in the Lord, which was evident in her prose. The Puritan religion was very strict with a major tenant being the inferiority of women to men, which they believed was supported by scripture. There were very few female writers during this period, and even fewer Puritan female writers. Due to a woman’s place in Puritan society, a preface was added to her narrative by a prominent Puritan pastor as his approval for the minister’s wife to publish her prose. This was done to protect her and her family’s reputation, so she would not be seen as overstepping her feminine boundaries. Reverend Mather viewed the publication of her story as a way to reinforce the stern Puritan values to the community. The many Biblical references and quoted scriptures made it even more engaging for those of the Puritan faith. Steven Neuwirth discusses this issue in his article “Her Master’s Voice: Gender, Speech and Gendered Speech in the Narrative of the Captivity of Mary White Rowlandson” when he states, “the author of the preface defends Mary’s publication on the grounds that it affords her the opportunity to fulfill promises she made to God while she was in captivity.” Mary Rowlandson’s audience quickly learned that her narrative was just as much about God and her complete reliance upon him for her physical and spiritual deliverance as her experiences living as a captive of the Indians. Richard VanDerBeets agrees with this viewpoint in his essay “Mary

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