Themes in Early American Literature Essay

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Themes of Early American Literature

Early American literature does a tremendous job of revealing the exact conditions and challenges that were faced by the explorers and later by the colonists of the New World. From early shipwrecks to the later years of small colonies barely surviving through dreadful winters, the literary works of the time period focus on some very recognizable themes. The theme of any given work – being simply the unifying subject or idea – is a very important element of any piece of writing. As one reviews some of this early literature, it becomes obvious that several themes appear repeatedly, and it is these subjects that were clearly very common among people from all over the New World. While a number of themes
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There is no doubt that the settlers suffered from ongoing and very serious hardships, and that these difficulties became intertwined into almost all of the literature that they developed.

Initially, not many Europeans had the motivation to travel across the Atlantic and settle in the New World. One group that did have incentive to make the treacherous journey was the Puritans, as they had lost faith in the Church of England and wanted the freedom to pursue their own beliefs. As a fairly well-educated group, these New England colonists contributed a great deal to the relatively limited collection of American literature. It is only natural, then, that the theme found in almost all Puritan writing is religion. The subject of religion overwhelms most Puritan literary works, to include those by the famous Anne Bradstreet, Michael Wigglesworth, William Bradford, and Jonathon Edwards. In Anne Bradstreet’s poem titled Contemplations, she discusses the relationship between human and nature with constant references to God, heaven, and morality. In line 12 she writes, “Sure He is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,” and this reference to God continues throughout the text (Perkins and Perkins 95). In Michael Wigglesworth’s The Day of Doom he composed Puritan religious ideals into the form of