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Anne Bradstreet

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Anne Bradstreet “Gender”

The Struggles and Fears of being a Puritan mother and a puritan woman, Bradstreet had trouble writing poetry in a patriarchal, unimaginative world. Although Bradstreet grew up in affluence with the luxury of an excellent education, she was expected to behave as a normal Puritan woman. She was the wife and child of colonial governor, but her status could not save her from the maltreatment and contempt of women stepping over the line. The Puritan belief that a woman’s place is in the home perturbed Bradstreet. She did not agree with the cultural bias toward women in her time. Bradstreet was criticized harshly for her role as a female writer; nevertheless, she wrote more and more about being a woman. She showed the world that being a woman was to her advantage in the realm of her poetry. As Perry Miller explains, in an era that subordinated women to men and men to God “women who stepped beyond their domestic defines through literature—by reading or writing—were considered dangerous to themselves and to society…Puritans expressed considerable scorn for women who wrote or published” (360-61). On the other hand, Elaine Showalter offers the remark that “Bradstreet’s writings [i.e. her important later writings] is more inflected by gender than by nationality; it is not American.”
Alvin H. Rosenfeld states that “There is the primary fact the [Anne Bradstreet] was a woman poet, and we look to her accordingly for that special point of view that belongs to the feminine sensitivity and which, we hope, will provide certain details of life in early America missing in the writings of her Puritan brothers.” (Rosenfeld 1970, 79). In fact, many critics believe that Anne Dudley Bradstreet’s feminine sensibility has always attracted scholars searching for details of early American life absent from the writings of her male contemporaries.
Some Critics make a range of claims about...

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