American literature is not studied because it is related to any one occupation, but instead because it boosts our ability to understand the world and how we impact and interact with the world. Literature reflects human ideas, beliefs, and societies, and studying it allows us to discover common human ways of understanding life. Additionally, when we read literature we are able to determine significant differences between works which allows us to explore another’s lifestyle and culture, even those separated from us by time and social barriers. Most importantly, American literature relates very closely with particular influences on American culture, and understanding that allows us to have a much deeper understanding of important questions and topics such as faith, doubt, religion, good, and evil.
Although there are numerous American literature authors to examine, several connections and breaks can be seen in particular with Mary Rowlandson and Benjamin Franklin. When studying The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson against a work such as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, a clear distinction between providentialism and autonomy can be seen, however at the same time there are also an ample amount of similarities that are important. In two historical pieces of literature, Benjamin Franklin and Mary Rowlandson had the ability to share their life experiences and accomplish their own versions of the American Dream. Franklin and Rowlandson held different values and aspirations, but both were able to exhibit persistence behind achieving their ultimate goal. In Franklin’s The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, the reader is able to see a man who controlled his own destiny to create his own success. On the other hand, in Rowlandson’s The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, a woman’s reliance in God helps her discover herself in the midst of the hardships she faces. Although Franklin and Rowlandson looked at self development in a dissimilar manner, both authors were able to find inspiration through the power of reading.
Benjamin Franklin manufactured his own account that can be correlated to his natural leadership abilities. Even though his willpower was a huge key building up to his achievements, books were what essentially opened up those doors. From a very early age, Franklin loved to read. In addition, his high respect for books was able to be seen all through his life, whether he was buying even more books or trying to enlist members to open the very first library. One success Franklin gained from books was a huge improvement in his writing skills. In one case, he utilized a volume of the Spectator to help him learn the proper English writing style. He imitated the material through paraphrasing and through writing verses. Franklin states, “I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possible in time come to be a tolerable English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious” (Franklin). Based on this, the reader can clearly see how Franklin exemplifies the control he has over his fate since he saw the importance of educated writing in society.
Even though Mary Rowlandson got her inspiration from reading as well, she held different ideals when compared to Franklin. Rowlandson had a strong faith in God which led to her confidence in Providentialism, which is the belief that everything is God’s will (Providentialism). It was because of this that when the Natives enslaved her, she continuously had an unbreakable faith in God. For example, when Rowlandson was given a bible on her first night, she read a verse in Deuteronomy “where I found, there was mercy promised again, if we would return to Him by repentance; and though we scattered from one end of the earth to the other, yet the Lord would gather us together, and turn all those curses upon our enemies. I do not desire to