Lesson 1: Our Puritan Heritage
After completing this lesson, you should be able to accomplish the following:
- Describe themes in William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and identify details from the history.
- Interpret meaning in Anne Bradstreet's poems, discuss her characteristic use of oppositions, and recognize details from the poems.
- Define literary terms and apply them appropriately to the readings.
- Identify components of American history that are relevant to the lesson's assigned readings.
Please read the following assignments before proceeding to the lesson commentary.
From The Norton Anthology of American Literature:
- Of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford (pages 58–75)
- Poems by Anne Bradstreet:
- "The Prologue" (pages 98–99)
- "The Author to Her Book" (pages 106–107)
- "A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment" (pages 108–109)
- Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666" (pages 109–110)
Conceit: a figure of speech in which an elaborate comparison is drawn between two dissimilar things.
Imagery: a figure of speech in which abstract ideas are described with vivid language in order to make those abstractions concrete for the reader. In everyday speech, we associate the word image with visual pictures, but in literature, imagery may refer to other senses or associations as well.
Irony: an incongruity between appearance and reality. Irony can be verbal, when what is said is different from what is meant. It can be situational, when what happens is the opposite of what one would expect. Or it can be manifested in other ways. Irony is very common in daily life, but it is more difficult to detect in literature. In life, we have many contextual cues such as the surroundings or the speaker's facial expression and tone of voice to indicate that what is being said is different from the intended meaning. In literature, we have fewer cues, but you can see how important it is to detect irony—if not, you've understood the story exactly the opposite of the intended meaning.
Poetry: literary writing that often, though not necessarily always, takes on the qualities of verse. Poems that do not take on the qualities of verse are understood to employ a more compact style and structure (and thus to have a higher imaginative or aesthetic value) than prose.
Puritan plain style: an aesthetic that influenced the written language, architecture and other design, and the visual arts in early America. Characteristics of plain style writing include 1) artful simplicity, 2) accessibility, 3) an absence of rhetorical ornamentation, and 4) the presence of didactic intent.
Theme: a controlling idea in a work of literature. A theme is not the subject of the work but the statement about or position that the text takes on the subject; therefore, two works might have the same subject but different themes. Consider the subject of love, for example. One work might suggest that love is eternal, enduring through time and across vast distances. Another work might suggest that love is fleeting, coming and going as naturally as the seasons.
Verse: literary writing that is metrically or rhythmically structured. Verse may or may not have a rhyme scheme.
The question that follows is an identification question. This sort of question will appear on the midterm exam. Answer the following question as completely as you can before checking your answer with the one provided.
Note: This practice question is for your benefit only, and your answers should not be submitted for evaluation.
- "…in two or three months' time half of [the Pilgrims] died…there was but six or seven sound persons, who, to their great commendations be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes…and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren…."
- Identify one theme of this work and be specific in explaining how this passage relates to that theme.
||Identify correct author
||Identify correct title
||Identify correct theme
|Accuracy/full development of how passage relates to theme
- William Bradford
- Of Plymouth Plantation (pages 66–67)
- One theme of this work is about community. In the quoted passage, Bradford describes the Pilgrims' treatment of each other during times of sickness. The caring and close-knit nature of the Pilgrims is clearly a source of pride that Bradford wants to share with his readers. In comparison, he also describes the sailors' treatment of their sick comrades. When illness affects the sailors, they begin now to desert each other. Indeed, one sick sailor who is cared for by the Pilgrims sees the difference, commenting on their Christian-like behavior and noting how the sailors let each other die like dogs.
When you can accomplish the learning objectives for this lesson, you should take the online quiz covering this material. This quiz is composed of 20 multiple-choice questions worth 1 point each, for a total of 20 possible points. You may use any assigned readings, your notes, and other course-related materials to answer the questions.
How to answer computer-evaluated questions:
- Preview all questions by clicking the button below. Be sure to print or otherwise mark your answers using the preview—questions on the preview are exactly the same as those you will submit.
- When you are ready, submit your answers for evaluation by clicking the button below. All students are automatically logged off after 60 minutes of inactivity for security purposes.
- Review any feedback received after submitting your answers. For missed questions, feedback generally helps explain why the answer you selected is incorrect and/or provides associated page references. If the feedback still does not help explain questions you find troublesome, contact Mizzou Online, describing your specific difficulty. Be sure to identify the course and keycode (four-digit number on the front page of the course), lesson or unit number, and question number(s). All inquiries concerning evaluated work must be submitted before you take each exam.
Is the work my own? Learning is up to you, and the MU community takes academic integrity seriously. Collaborating on assignments for this course is not permitted and is considered academic dishonesty.