The Puritans dream was to create a model society for the rest of the Christians. Their goal was to make a society in every way connected to god. But to really understand what the aspirations of the puritans were, we must first understand their beliefs. These beliefs were expressed through their writings which have been read through the years by American students. With this, American students were taught Puritan lessons of devotion, virtue, and conformity. Devotion can be defined as love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
It can also as mean religious worship or observance. Each of these definitions were significant in Puritan beliefs and expressed very strongly within their writings. Reading these pieces gives American students an opportunity to learn how to express love, loyalty, and religious worship. In poetry, for example, life long perseverance of being in love (Bradstreet) can teach modern American students what it is to show devotion to a loved one. Puritan writing also expresses the belief of devotion through worship, in most instances, of a God.
However, some Puritan pieces take a different approach in teaching this lesson and instead, give examples of worshiping the Devil in forms of witchcraft (Miller) only to later explain the repercussions that God has in store for the sinners who would have then become objects of this wrath (Edwards). The fear of such a wrath will teach modern American students to express a loyal devotion to their God and not to any “evil” practice. Puritans were a very virtuous people being that their behavior showed high moral standards, this came about in their writings as well.
Students can be taught this lesson from reading Puritan pieces that introduce one character as being a walking representative of sin (Hawthorne). In situations like this, an American student can learn how to mature and acknowledge their mistakes in order rise above all judgement and continue on their duties in a way that is morally correct and best for themselves and their peers. Another example might be a person who is seen as being trustworthy to his neighbors and is surrounded by great evil but finds the courage, will, and sacrifice within him in order to put an end to chaos and protect his people (Miler).
This would teach an American student how to differentiate what is important and right versus what benefits themselves only. Each of these moral principles are useful lessons for students to learn to become a more virtuous person. Aside form the lessons of devotion and virtue that are more positively influential, Puritan writing also teaches American students the ways of conformity or how to match attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. In our modern world, there are people who act a certain way or say a certain thing to blend in with society.
This happened in the Puritan ages as well. Occurrences like these were written in Puritan texts describing situations in which, for example, a group of girls were accused in participating in illegal acts and one girl particular led the other into a deadly trail of lies which costs others their lives (Miler). Another occurrence might be where all members of a community shun someone because of a crime that person has committed and even the person who assisted in the crime must keep their distance as well to avoid accusation or confrontation from their peers (Hawthorne).
With these writings, American students will learn how to use conformity to avoid trouble. Ultimately, Puritan writings have many lessons to teach American students that are relevant to everyday life and common situations. Each Puritan belief expressed within writings can be interpreted by students and translated into an everyday way of life in today’s world. These ways of life include devotion to God, being virtuous, and modern conformity.
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