Example research essay topic: The Puritain World As Illustrated By American Literature – 1,152 words

Puritans led a simple life; they looked for the
least complicated approach to living in the world.
When we look at their lives through poetry such as
Before the Birth of One of Her Children or the
sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God from a
21st century perspective, we see the Puritans as
traditional and old fashioned. They believed in
predestination and an all powerful, unforgiving
God who had everything planned for the future, in
terms of who would be part of the elect, and who
would move on to an eternal afterlife. Murdock
speak about puritan faith, In the genuine Puritan
tradition, character and morality are seen as
permanent values achievable only by personal
spiritual conquest, life is constantly
spiritualized, and the humblest events and acts
are related to a divine context. They also
believed that most people were destined for hell,
no matter how faithful they were to their people
and God. Puritans valued hard work, morality, and
found truth through the bible. The works of Anne
Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, and Edward Taylor,
take us into the Puritan world and we can see that
they do lead a life that is constantly
spiritualized.

We will consider Murdocks quote and
see that it is contradictory as we can see that
the spirit comes through a physical means.
Although they experience the spirituality through
physical elements of life, the value of the spirit
still exists. These works also stand as important
foundations of American Literature. Through Anne
Bradstreets poetry, we can see aspects of the
Puritan ideas and lifestyles. These ideas and
lifestyles revolve around spirituality as a
central theme in their lives. In her poem Before
the Birth of One of Her Children a woman speaks
about the possibility that she is going to die.
She wants to take her spirit and put it on the
paper for her husband in her words. She says And
kiss this paper for thy loves dear sake, / Who
with salt tears this last farewell did take(260).
This could be a paradox in the Puritan world.

She
lets the paper represent herself, kissing the
paper is like kissing her. This idea is
contradictory to puritan beliefs in that the soul
is being placed in the physical form of the paper.
In Before the Birth of One of Her Children
Bradstreet illustrates the power that God had in
the Puritan belief system. And if I see not half
my days thats due, / What nature would, God grant
to yours and you(260). She speaks as though God
had an all mighty power, that he had the ability
to grant somebody more or less time to live. This
idea of an all-powerful God, who the Puritans
bring into their daily lives, is seen frequently
throughout the Puritan literature that we have
studied. Bradstreets idea of an all powerful god
is not yet contradictory of Murdocks statement.

In
a different poem, Anne Bradstreet illustrates the
Puritan idea of Gods involvement in relationships.
She writes, Thy love is such I can no way repay; /
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray(260). In
this poem, she describes how much she loves her
husband. With the description, comes a link to
heaven and to God. She prays that God will reward
her husbands goodness so he will go to heaven and
they will be reunited after death. The spiritual
elements pervade their lives because of the
all-powerful God that they love and fear. Jonathan
Edwards wrote a sermon that he preached to a group
of Puritans.

The sermon called Sinners in the
Hands of an Angry God is filled with metaphors and
visual symbols meant to underline the ideas of the
sermon. His objective in using the metaphors was
to scare the people into being faithful to God by
threatening them. The bow of Gods wrath is bent,
and the arrow made ready on the string, and
justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains
the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure
of God, and that of an angry God, without any
promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow
one moment from being made drunk with your
blood(80-81). Edwards describes God as having a
bow and an arrow, as if he plays with the Puritans
as if they were toys; he shoots the arrows
whenever he feels and wherever he wants. One might
think that this image of God might make people
lose faith, but instead people developed a fear
for God. The entire sermon portrays God in this
way, with many metaphors throughout, giving
different images showing Gods power.

These images
and physical means of God contradict Murdocks idea
of Puritanism. To perform humble acts related to a
divine context using extensive metaphors would be
contradictory. In Upon a Spider Catching a Fly by
Edward Taylor, the poet has created a poem with
nursery rhyme qualities. He narrates a tale about
the spider and the fly and the web, a simple
story. By using these symbols, simple and natural
creatures, he speaks of the relationship that the
Puritans believed they had with God. In this
relationship we can see how the fly fears the
spider, as the spider can kill the fly.

Taylor
writes about a fly that stumbles into a spiders
web. The fly is powerless, but will not be killed
if it does not harm the spiders web by being
frantic. Nonetheless the fly still fears the
spider because the spider can kill the fly at any
moment. The fly represents the human race and the
spider represents God. We see how the Puritan
people did fear God and let this fear seep into
their lives and bring their spirituality into
their reality constantly. Again, a metaphor is
used to portray gods spirituality, all
contradicting of the Puritan faith as Murdock
explains.

In looking at these three Puritan
authors, we can see the spirituality that is
present in their lives (Bradstreet and Taylor),
and can also see where the spirituality comes from
(Edwards sermon). From the churchs point of view,
the people needed to be threatened and needed to
fear god in order to have faith. With this, the
people would be humble and try to impress God in
every way they can, even though they may not be
part of the elect. The ideas of spirituality come
through physical means (a spider and a fly, a God
that holds people in his hands), so part of them
is stuck in the physical part of life. But the
spiritual side rises out of the physical means
that they know. This idea of spirituality through
a physical means contradicts the Puritan faith as
Murdock explains.

The Puritans were among the
early people of America. We read their writings as
a foundation for all that will come as the country
grows until it becomes the diverse country that it
is today..

Research essay sample on The Puritain World As Illustrated By American Literature