Why the Past Matters?
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Success is viewed in different ways by different people in the society. It is important that we study what people in the past have termed as success. For our case we focus on Ann Bradstreet.
During the time period when Ann Bradstreet was alive, women were never considered to be intelligent. They never had a high role in the society and this made them to be regarded with very low respects. Traditionally, women stayed humble throughout their rest of their lives while ensuring that did not cross the societal boundaries that were set for them. However though, Ann Bradstreet’s eccentric personality leads her to deviate from those societal norms which are reflected in her poems like the prologue. In the first half of the poem, she adheres to the roles of women and that other men are better. In the second half, she resonates with a voice that she wants people to hear by saying things like “ Women know it very well that men can do best , pre eminence in each and all is yours yet women are granted very small acknowledgement”. She also says in expressing the societal misperception of women in the society “I am not vulnerable to any one of the scornful tongues who say that my hand better fits to a needle and not education are wrong because despite casting female wisdom, I will prove them that that will not advance.”
Initially during her poem, she describes herself as a humble uneducated girl but as we delve more into the prologue, we can see a sudden change of attitude. She explodes out of harshness and hunger and she tries to break away from the harsh societal norms. She claims that the society has done her wrong. In the past authors could not create false impression of their capability like Ann did. If the authors accomplished highly, they could go boasting and displaying their works but Ann differs from this mentality by not boasting about her accomplishments first but later uses her proficient skills to condemn the societal norms of that time. This fallacy attitude comes up because of her eccentric personality that enables her to write a poem in innovative ways that completely deviate from the past societal norms.
In such colonial times, there was frequent arrangement of marriages and this made families to be seldom built on true love. Hence, having a woman who truly expressed love for her husband was very rare. She married Simon at the age of sixteen because e she says he met her standards. She writes about her love for her husband which was deviation from the societal norms. In expressing her love for her husband, she says, “I value my love for my husband more than whole mines of gold or all the riches that the earth has. It is so huge that rivers cannot quench but I love you to give you recompense” with such an enormous breakthrough, she is able to go against societal norms since poems had originally been written by males alone. This shows how she achieves to deviate from the societal norms of her time.
She emphasizes the benefit of having God in ones life and how human beings are useless without God. She says that no matter what we have, it is useless if we do not have Christ in us. She goes ahead to say that however much she does a wrong, she does not want to make god angry. She prays that god overlooks her weaknesses and sees through them to the true person which is striving to live for him. Ann says that even if she fails to accomplish what she was striving for, it won’t matter to her because of her place in the society. Ann loved her children and her husband and God with the whole of her heart, in fact she quotes that she loved her God with all her heart and that everyone should do that. This serves to show the merging of religious life with private life. She has an inquiring spirit though it can be rebellious. It is this spirit that gives her the need for self exploration.
Ann did not accept submissiveness which was propagated by the New England Puritanism. However though she encourages simplicity as she says "But simple I according to my skill," For pioneer colonists, home provided a refuge far from the new and harsh environment. To Ann Bradstreet, the burning of her home in July nineteen sixty six was such a great blow to someone who had devoted herself to her domestic pleasures and family. She consoles herself by saying “Thou hast an house on high erect,
Framed by that mighty Architect, With glory richly furnished, Stands permanent though this be fled.” However though, she does not pity herself as a result of this. Instead of pitying herself, she uses this opportunity to reconcile it with her belief in the wisdom of Gods will. She acknowledges the fact that material things are all but vanity and that her earthly wealth did not have a real meaning and that real wealth lay with God.
Through the writings and poems of Ann Bradstreet, we can be able to get inspired because we derive great lessons from her story. She was so humble as she says “Let poets and historians set these forth, My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.” Despite her disabled state, she is seen to be working hard and she does not despair or resign to fate. She takes care of her eight children very comfortably. She also stresses the importance of having spiritual touch with the lord in order to receive his favors and to save you from the earthly problems. She stresses that material things are not important but what matters is the favor from God. Humility is another factor we learn from Ann’s poems. We should be humble and should not go praising ourselves. She humbles herself by saying “My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings, and this to mend no art is able, because nature made it so irreparable.”
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