Through the Lens of a Heartless Puritan


Within Mary Rowlandson’s captive narrative and John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill”, it is clear that there was no room for acceptance for indigenous people within the egotistical Puritain society. Through Rowlandson’s retelling of her traumatic experiences, this notion becomes clearer as readers are able to experience the cold and selfish mindset of prejudiced Puritan’s as herself through her own voice, such as when she “chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts” (1). As horrid as her situation was, witnessing many if her loved ones die before her eyes, it is telling that her prejudiced nature was still able to overtake her emotions in this moment of despair as she never fails to to refer to the Algonquian people as animals, knowing full well their shared history with her people. Furthermore, she demonstrates the Puritan’s strong religious beliefs that, in their mind, justify their animalstic outlook on indigenous people as she note the “solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here, and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves, all of them stripped naked by a company of hell-hounds, roaring, singing, ranting, and insulting, as if they would have torn our very hearts out; yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive”(1). Despite belonging to a society that committed countless sins to drove out thousands of innocent people out of their homeland for their own selfish reasons, Rowlandson still believes her people as God’s the chosen ones with a plan they will blindly follow until death.

It is ironic that Rowlandson would associate the Algonquian people as animals while trying to paint her people as devoted religious victims in her capturing when her people behaved savagely when colonizing. In Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” he describes the gruesome acts of “(Native) Infants… torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone”. These acts only demonstrate the pure evil that resided in colonists hearts as they shamelessly tore apart every aspect of native’s lives with no reason other than to cause agony.

In an attempt to convey a sympathetic tale about facing trials and tribulations through the devotion to God, Rowlandson only proves that her and her people’s horrible prejudice against indigenous people created a wretched blotch of history that too many had to needlessly suffer.

–Jose Ramirez

One thought on “Through the Lens of a Heartless Puritan

  1. I really enjoyed reading this week’s blog post. The points you make between Rowlandson’s writing and Winthrop’s were really insightful and how different they are really fascinating to read. My favorite point is when you talk about the different views the two authors make about the natives. It makes me open my eyes to the fact that while people go through or see similar events, what they take out of it can be completely different.


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