Complicated Captivity

Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, referred to as The History of the Captivity paints a stark image of the general perception that European colonists had of the indigenous people of North America. It is my opinion that this narrative further complicated the history of tolerance against the indigenous peoples during English colonization. The reason I say this is because Rowlandson throughout the account is shown to have good relations with the leader of the tribe King Phillip, she appeared to have been treated kindly during her captivity and did not seem to display any sense of mental scarring from the incident at least from the words she wrote, however there is also the fact that she was kidnapped on a raid that resulted in the deaths of many and among those victims were children. To a neutral viewer this provides plenty of reason as to why there may be confusion on what to believe regarding intolerance toward natives. On one hand it was wrong for the English to settle on their lands but the resulting brutal raid would result in sympathy for the English, finally the good treatment of the captives creates even more confusion.

There also seemed to have been a growing amount of literature which focused on the divide between colonists and natives during this time period which can also been seen in last week’s reading, John Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor which displayed an antagonistic relationship between Spanish settlers and Aztecs particularly Cortez and Montezuma. I believe that this type of writing becoming more widespread could only hurt relations between colonists and natives and makes me wonder if that was the goal of some of these authors. Having famous writers such as Dryden speak on this divide but also sprinkle in confusing factor such as a romance plot between Cortez and Cydaria could further confuse audiences on what to believe. Because of various depictions of how European settlers and Native Americans interacted during colonial times Rowlandson’s account only serves to complicates matters further regarding this intense relationship between colonizer and colonized.

–  Evan Klang

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