English / Values In Early American Literature

Values In Early American Literature

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Autor:  anton  09 April 2011
Tags:  Values,  American,  Literature
Words: 1336   |   Pages: 6
Views: 353

Values in Early American Literature

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” says the Declaration of Independence. This phrase encompasses three major values shown throughout early American literature. The strong belief in religion, freedom, and a strong will for a better life. Each piece had one or more of these themes within them.

A strong value within almost all the writing was religion, both Native American and Puritan. Most Native American tales are based around a god or a moral expressed by a god. In “Coyote Finishes His Work” Coyote does all his work because the “Old Man Above” wanted him too. Their lives are entirely based on their religion. They speak the language because Coyote said so. They live where they live because Coyote said so. He was their link to their god. “He made the Indians, and put them out in tribes all over the world because Old Man Above wanted the earth to be inhabited all over, not just in one or two places.” Not only were the Native Americans very close with their religion, but so were the early settlers. Most of the original Europeans who crossed over were of the Puritan faith. Almost every work makes reference to this religion, from the Constitution to Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Almost all of the works in Collection Two spoke of the author’s religion or adhering to its beliefs. Such as, Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, in which he speaks strictly of the Puritan religion. “His anger is great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of His wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger.” Here Edwards speaks of those who have not confessed to being born again in the eyes of God and sinners within the church. The Puritan religion was the basis for other works such as Anne Bradstreet. “And to my God my heart did cry, to strengthen me in my distress, and not leave me succorless.” This is from a poem called, “Here Follow Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10 1666.” This particular piece entails the happenings of the Bradstreet homestead burning. During this difficult time Anne often speaks to God about letting go of her worldly possessions. Religion is one of the many things that helped new settlers through the beginning years of America. Another value that helped during this time was freedom.

Freedom, it’s been ever present since the pilgrims first set foot upon the land soon to be called America. It was the reason for coming over and the reason for fighting against British rule. It is one of the values that stayed with every member of this country to this day. “America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion.” So states Thomas Paine’s “From the crisis, No.1.” This discusses the wish to free the American colonies from British rule. Most Americans did not believe England had the right to tax and create laws for America when they were an ocean away. They felt it was time to free them entirely from English rule and become an independent country. Freedom was even present before the time of the Revolutionary war. When people were first coming to America they came to practice their religion freely. America didn’t just represent political freedom, but religious freedom as well. People came over to escape persecution for not conforming to the Anglican Church. Most of the first pilgrims were Puritans, but soon Catholics, Separatists, and Calvinists were coming too. As time went on America wished for political freedom as well. As well as Freedom is still a prominent today in America. We celebrate our freedom in almost everything we do, from our education to our foreign affairs. All we do is based on this principal. Freedom is something that the generations today have never really fought for. Unlike those who came before us. The pilgrims stood for more than they could ever understand, they stood for the freedom of millions of people. Every step they made from getting on the boat, to establishing their own government has brought us to where we are today. Every time they fought against English rule they brought freedom that much closer for the future generations. Freedom is what formed America and is what keeps her together today. They would help shape this nation into what it is today. They did all this unknowingly as they strived for happiness in a better life.

“My husband,” she said, “when I cut down the tree, it split in half and then fell through a great hole. Without the tree, there can be no life. I must follow it.” from “The Sky Tree.” The Old Chief had fallen ill and was about to die when a vision came to him. To save his life and the lives of others there was a fruit on top of the Sky Tree. So Ancient woman went to cut down the tree for her husband, in the process the tree fell through a hole in the sky. Instead of turning around and letting her husband die, she went after the tree. She maintained hope that she would able to retrieve the tree as well as her own life. She was willing to risk her life so that others may have a better life as well. America has been known as the land of opportunity. It is viewed as a place to make life better. Even Native American folktales are about ways to make a better life. People worked hard to better themselves and their lives. They set high goals and always achieved them. No matter the risk the early Americans were willing to take it. To better themselves and the country they were forming. “I wish to live without committing any fault at any time,” from Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. A better life comes from within. It starts with an inner understanding of what you want. Then you take the necessary actions to make it a reality. That is where America comes in. For many a better life could not be found in England. To fully reach happiness some wanted religious freedom and some wished for political freedom. Happiness came in many forms both big and small. A large one was moving to an unknown continent where you didn’t know if you would live or die. The choice to join any religion you wanted is a smaller, but no less important happiness. The pursuit of happiness is still true in this nation today.

“All pinked with Varnished Flowers of Paradise,” reads a line from Edward Taylor’s “Huswifery.” That is what America has become, an amazing tapestry of values and cultures whose beginnings were tightly woven in early American literature. The values of religion, liberty, and happiness have been upheld from the very beginnings of human life on this continent. The Native Americans upheld their religious and cultural beliefs even as other cultures threatened to take over. The first Pilgrims fought off religious and political persecution in their England to only come to America and slowly become the strong and independent country it would soon become. The revolutionists fought for the happiness of a young country that was being forced into submission. From America’s humble and honest beginnings to the diverse and open country it is today these three core values have rung through. Life in America has changed greatly over the passing years. The people, places, and values had undergone an adventure like no other. Even now our values are as unique as the people who first settled here. Though the dream changes, its core values remain the same. I hold these truths to be self-evident.



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