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Marcia Vidal Nolte

Matthew Bissell
Writing In The Liberal Arts

When discussing texts from specific time periods, it is important to take in mind
the beliefs and morality of the people of that era. Puritan literature is not an
exception. And if we talk about women in Puritan literature, it is elementary to
situate ourselves in the Puritan mindset to further comprehend it.
Mary Rowlandson, Puritan woman and the wife of a well-known minister, was
abducted by the Native Americans and published her captivity story in a century
when women were expected to stay away from writing and solely be housewifes.
To be a good wife to your husband, who was considered a representative of
Christ, meant you praised God. Rowlandson posted her narrative through a male
author and while still being rare, she channeled her captivity in an very religious,
educational manner.
It is interesting how their religion shapes their society completely: the hierarchy of
God above everyone, and men above women. That idea is established to
everyone the moment they are born and no one really questions it. Therefore, it
is not really a matter of faith or love to God, it is about following the social rules,
because otherwise, you will not be accepted. This show that the fear of being an
outcast and the convenience of accepting Puritan beliefs

Rowlandson following the example of Jesus bride, she summits. Consequently,

she summits to men, even to Native American men. During her captivity, she
would show resistance only to women.
According to the article Mary White Rowlandsons Self Fashioning as Puritan
Goodwife, Mary always keep the role of bride, aligned to the only personification
society had for women. Puritan relied on their sacred scriptures and how men,
who were the only ones entitled, interpreted them.
Thus, this means that if religious scriptures could be interpreted by any man,
rationally thinking, they wouldnt be accurate since not everyone could have the
same interpretations. But of course, their faith was in between that rule, so that
couldnt be discussed, and made their argument valid in their terms.
Although, we have to highlight the fact that Rowlandson, who before her
abduction seemed to have a faith completely based on social construction and
not in true love for God, starts rationalizing her faith in the moment when she is
conflicted between survival and her religious request to keep submitting. From
my point of view, she believed in the culture of faith she was imposed, but in that
culture of faith, there wasnt much love for faith itself. She deliberates on the
Puritan beliefs and why it is acceptable for men to impose roles on women.
To my perspective, the author is keeping its position as objective as possible,
which leaves the door open for the reader to see it from the Puritan point of view
but also to see it from their own believes and connect with what Rowlandson
might have been thinking. I have a strong religious position and i base my

convictions as rationally as possible when defending my faith, since i did choose

my religion, unlike Mary who did it because God stated so and had social
pressure on her at all times. I found it empowering how Mary started reflecting on
her faith and what God wanted from her instead of just following what she was
told by others that was the right thing for her but also how she relied so much on
her faith afterwards which proofs she is a strong woman, and she probably
wouldnt have made it so far if she hadnt had her faith well set. She first
submitted herself to the Indian males because they represented the authority and
she was taught to submit to men, but later she bares with it because she has her
faith put that God is going to aid her. In other words, she passes from submitting
to men, to submitting to something supernatural and greater than her: her God.
Nonetheless, the author also explains how huswifery helped Rowlandson to
survive, by serving her captors.
This also shows empowerment since she is not precisely summiting, but she is
making a smart move by showing she is useful and worthy. Rowlandson states
that she learned to not be discouraged by the little things, hence those troubles
are the ones that make us stand stronger. And in the Puritan belief, it contributes
to self-discipline and religious awareness.
We can see now that Mary is not being only worthy to God in her belief, but also
as a person.
After her captivity, Rowlandson manages to still show a perfectly Puritan way,
even when her faith is now more rational. And we ask ourselves, with our 21st

century perspective, would she self fashion as something she no longer is? Why
would she repress herself?
The author claims that she did it because thats what society told her it was the
only way for salvation. But after all that she lived during her abduction, and the
spiritual changes she went through, after she proved to herself that she can
useful and relied on God, and not on men to guide her, it is hard for me to believe
that she just left the situation as it was, because even when the Native
Americans abducted a conformist, they didnt release one. I wished the the
answer could be as simple as because in the Puritan Society of the 17th century,
that if she wanted to have a voice in a place ran by men, unfortunately, she had
to go through the filters they asked her to have. And that she was smart enough
to do it in a way where her message could be spread, and that at first glance,
men would not realize the purpose of it other than educational in religious
matters, but it would lead to reflection in women.The author does clarify that
Rowlandson shows characteristics of a victim of Survivor Syndrome, which leads
her to concealing her new identity and establishing her perfect wife image for the
sake of her salvation.
All in all, i think Mary White Rowlandson can be considered an empowering
woman to women of the 21st century, since she is an example of what happens
when going through a traumatic situation can help you realize and change you
positively. And even in her narrowed housewife status and even when her

situation today would be different, she shows us we are important and that we
are worth something.