Anne Bradstreet as First American Feminist
Feminism today remains prominent because even while women’s rights are very strong, women are still fighting for equality every day. In the time of Anne Bradstreet, women had few rights and they were seen as inferior to men. Anne lived among the puritans whom ruled her everyday life. Although it was against the puritan code for women to receive an education, Bradstreet’s father, Thomas Dudley, loved his daughter dearly and made sure that she was well educated which shows in her works. Anne Bradstreet’s literature became well known only because her family published her works under a male name. This was done because writing poetry was a serious offense to the puritans since poetry was considered creative and the only creating that was done was by God. In the works of Anne Bradstreet, she conveys a feminist attitude, and could very well be one of the first American Feminists.
Bradstreet was very religious, and the religion she faithfully followed was very male dominant. Perhaps this is why Bradstreet never had a strong voice. Surely if she were to have voiced her opinions loudly and strongly she would have suffered dire consequences. Anne Hutchinson was banished because she publicly voiced her objections to the code of puritan lifestyle and beliefs. Living in a harsh puritan society most likely intimidated Bradstreet, so instead, she carefully weaved her early feminist thought into her poems and stories so that they weren’t too apparent. For example, in
”The Prologue,” Bradstreet conveys knowledge of recognizing the kind of patriarchy she lives in, in the fifth and sixth stanza.
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/ Who says my hand a needle better fits,/ A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong,/ For such despite they cast of female wits:/ If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,/ They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance. (239)
In addition, in this quote, Bradstreet acknowledges that even if her writing skills are extraordinary, that because she is a woman, no one will accept it or believe it.
In addition, Bradstreet expressed a need for equality. She wanted people to take a step back and glimpse back to history, “Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are;” (240). In Greece, women were equal among men, as were the Gods and Goddesses. In the seventh stanza of “The Prologue,” Bradstreet gives her most strong cry out for recognition, still however, it is subtle, “Men have precedeny and still excel,/ It is but vain unjustly to wage war;/men can do best, and women know it well/ Preeminence in all and each is yours;/ Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours” (240). Also in this quote is Bradstreet’s observance of men in their natural state. She sees men as war hungry, vain and powerful. Consequently, Anne Bradstreet faced a double bind. If she voiced her thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, she would have put herself in danger, and by...