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Mary Rowlandson is an american colonial author Essay Sample

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Mary Rowlandson is an american colonial author Essay Sample

Why were captivity narratives so “captivating” and popular in literature? Many authors and writers throughout literature have demonstrated these stories of unfortunate people being captured and murdered for various reasons. Captivity narratives are stories usually written of human beings captured because they are not civilized. Most of the time these abductions happened due to seeking revenge, ransom, or replacing people due to decimating of war and diseases. Captivity Narratives dates to the 17th century, and first was written about women’s experiences. Authors including Cotton Mather, John Williams, Robert Knox, and Mary Rowlandson presented thoughts, personal experiences, and written visuals of captive narratives. These authors wanted readers to open their eyes to the cruelty and injustices of being held in captivity.

The most popular, and the earliest literacy of captivity narratives was by the middle-aged Puritan, Mary Rowlandson.
Mary Rowlandson was born the year 1637, in Somersetshire, England. Mary White was the sixth child of ten children. Mary was one of the first authors of the 17th century who wrote on captivity narratives. Her parents immigrated to New England when she was a very young girl. They first settled in Salem, and later in Lancaster in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mary’s father John White, became a wealthy landowner and settled in 1653. About three years later Mary would marry Joseph Rowlandson. The next twelve years of her life, Mary Rowlandson would be busy as Puritan Mother, tending to her home and three children. “In 1682, Mary Rowlandson published what would become known as the first ‘Indian captivity narrative’. Her work entitled The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, tells of her capture by Wampanoag Indians in 1676, the eighty-two days of her captivity, and her eventual release” (Cloyd).

“In the introductory segment of her captivity narrative, before the story becomes structured into a series of ‘removes’, Mary Rowlandson succinctly states her purpose: “that I may the better declare what happened to me during that grievous Captivity” (Burnham). Rowlandson’s narrative begins on February 10th, 1675. The British settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony was attacked by Native Americans. Mary describes the first encountered by saying “On the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great numbers upon Lancaster. Their first coming was about sun rising; hearing the noise of some guns, we looked out; several houses were burning, and the smoke ascending to heaven” (257). In this moment, Mary’s life changed her forever. The attackers burn down houses and open fire on the settlers, wounding and killing several of them, and taking people captive.

Most of Mary’s family are killed and the Indians start picking their captives. Mary is one of them, along with her younger child Sarah, both wounded. Rowlandson’s other two children are taken from her, separating them from Sarah and Mary. Upon the first remove, Mary and the Wampanoag Indians travel to an abandoned town nearby and spend the night. “Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures, with our bodies wounded and bleeding, and our hearts no less than our bodies” (259). The captors and captives leave and head westward, deeper into the woods. The journey becomes very painful, and more difficult for Rowlandson and Sarah. After another day goes by, they reach Wenimesset. Here, Mary Rowlandson meets Robert Pepper, who wants to comfort new captives. The Indians and the captives stay in Wenimesset for over a week before they are on the next remove. Unfortunately, during this time Mary’s child becomes very ill and passes away. “About two hours in the night, my sweet babe like a lamb departs this life on Feb. 18, 1675” (261). The child was six years, and five months old. After the traumatic event of Mary’s child, Rowlandson’s original captor sold her to a Sagamore Indian name Quamopin. Quamopin is related to King Philp. The King decides to let Mary’s son to visit her. The Indians continue their raids and tyranny, killing and looting towns like in Medfield. The captors give Mary Rowlandson a bible. The bible symbolized hope and comfort for Mary. Mary being a Puritan and believing in the word of God, gives her new life in surviving through her captivity. In The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, Mary quotes many bible verses throughout her narrative.

As a Puritan, modest, and pure woman, Rowlandson believes God’s grace molds all the events in the world. Mary believes everything happens for a reason in the word of God. After the captors take a detour, the Indians cross the Baquaug River to meet with King Philp. Mary stays in the settlement sewing clothes for the Indians in exchange for food. Normally for most captives, they would be brutally murdered long ago. However, the Indians saw Mary in a different way. She proved herself to be an asset to the tribe. Later in the captivity narrative, the Indians sends a letter to Boston, stating that Rowlandson can be bought for twenty pounds, according to King Philp. After experiencing “forests, swamps, steep hills, and flat country” (Cloyd), Mary is finally allowed to travel back to Lancaster, then Boston. After twelve weeks away from her husband, Rowlandson is finally reunited with her husband and her two surviving children. The two stays with a friend in Concord for 11 weeks. Mr. Rowlandson died in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Later in her life, Mary Rowlandson would remarry Captain Samuel Talcott in Wethersfield on August 6, 1679. Mary Rowlandson dies in the same town on January 5, 1711.

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