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Early American Literature Influenced By Religious Ideologies And Philosophies

1757 words - 7 pages

In the beginning times of American Literature, Puritan writers were prevalent which grew into the Age of Reason by way of scientists and philosophers, which eventually emerged into Romanticism and the Renaissance writers, which developed into Realism by the middle of 19th century. Throughout American Literature, religious ideologies and philosophies influenced the way that writers portrayed the time period, characters, feelings, and God.
Through Puritan writers, literature is influenced by religious ideologies and philosophies. Puritans writers, beginning in about 1560, put most of their focus into making their work God centered. They believed in the “Elect” and that Jesus died only for these few people. Writers usually wrote in 1st person narrative and were against verbal ornamentation because they believed in simplicity above all else. They also believed that every human being is born sinful and that God’s grace was given freely to everyone. Olaudah Equiano was a puritan writer and in The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano portrays his love for God with, “Behold God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid… Praise the Lord…” (Equiano 1). Equiano writes in thoughts and this narrative of his life is written in a subjective manner while highlighting the main events. When he tells about being torn from his siblings, put on the slave ship, and being filled with terror he explains by way of simplicity. He does not try and use verbal ornamentation but tells it how it is, which gives the reader a sense of knowledge of the situations. Mary Rowlandson uses allusions to Bible verses and stories throughout A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Rowlandson tends to use the Bible consistently to give herself a sense of hope and security as in one occurrence she
remembers “the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy”, in which Moses warns that God will bless those who obey Him and curse those who do not (Rowlandson 25). She also thanks God during situations that could seem like nothing to be thankful about like, “yet the Lord by his almighty power, preserved a number of us from death” (Rowlandson 10). Through both the narratives of the lives of Equiano and Rowlandson, the Puritan literature is influence by religious ideologies and philosophies.
By the end of the 17th century, new ideas formed in Europe challenging the faith of the Puritans, during the period of time known as the Age of Reason. Also known as the Enlightenment, it began with philosophers and scientists who called themselves rationalists, believing that one can arrive at truth by using reason, instead of religious faith or intuition. As the Puritans in the past saw God as being active in the involvement of the workings of the universe, the rationalists compared God to a clockmaker, and that God’s gift to humanity was the ability to think in a logical manner. Like the Puritans, rationalists discovered God through the medium of the natural...

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