17th Century Women Experiences Essay

1680 words - 7 pages

Though women were subordinates by both the eye of the church and the government, women found ways to express authority both intentionally and unintentionally. Women began to act independently in patriarchal society. In 17th century Euro-America Puritan society believed that men played a patriarchal role upon women, and that this role was instituted by God and nature. The seniority of men over women lay within both the household and the public sphere. The household, immediate family living in the same dwelling was subject to the male as head figure of the house. The public sphere also known as the social life within the Puritan community consisted of two echelons. These echelons consisted of formal and informal public. The formal public consisted of woman and indentured servants. Women were to stay within the informal public and stay in the shadows of the men.
Among these women are Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Rowlandson. Both women were similar in social status, both high statuses, well-educated women. Social and religious patterns were two of the determining factors for women’s roles in the New England colonies. Anne Hutchinson’s independence led to her banishment where Mary Rowlandson’s independence led to the publication of her spiritual experience.
Anne Hutchinson, of Massachusetts Bay, was a woman of Euro-American society in the early 17th century. Born in the late 16th century, Hutchinson was baptized into the Puritan church. She was self taught and learned also by reading the books within her father’s library. Her family was middle class and members of the church. Her father was a reverend. She married William Hutchinson a magistrate in the colony. Hutchinson like many other women played a role in child bearing as a midwife. She held the same roles within the household as other women. It was her actions outside of the household that Hutchinson was held accountable for.
Hutchinson began following the sermons of John Cotton, an outspoken advocate of self-determination of congregational government. Following this ideology Hutchinson started hosting meetings that presented theological interpretations of sermons and scriptures; ideas that contradicted with the Puritan religion. The church found her a threat to the commonwealth because the attendance was equal to, if not more than the Sabbath congregations. Many listened to what she had to say and the church feared that people who begin to follow her as well. As a woman she was allowed to express religious experiences but was not supposed to go around teaching their own interpretation of God’s word. In the opening of her trial Winthrop expressed that she had participated in “a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God not fitting for your sex” . Hutchinson had stepped beyond a gender role that during the early 17th century was were considered inappropriate for women.
By hosting her meetings and teaching the new theology she was challenging the ministers...

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