Through the Lens of a Heartless Puritan

Colony

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

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the Ultimate Truth

In the reading “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” by Mary Rowlandson entails her endeavors as a Christian English woman. In a situation similar to a marginal experience of a wife and mother- yet still White. Where roles are reversed because of her misfortune. A white woman held captive by natives who killed off the connection to her family. The war and conflict was real. Defense and honor versus a war for power, land and dignity. This text dates back to the beginning stages of an ongoing conflict of greed and violence. This theme becomes a cycle in the world as we move up in the timeline.

Mary Rowlandson was separated from her husband, children and sister. Her husband was away while the others were with the natives separated with different masters. She tells about her experiences through the Christian lens of faith. The text exposes the beauty of having faith and what faith does to our inner-strength. Her faith was an energy that sent the light out and manifested a generous gift from a native woman. She randomly gifted Rowlandson a Bible. Her verbal exchanges with the natives was minimal but this bible was a gift that became really important. It became her guide as she stated herself. Sacred guidance that affirmed faith, warmth and security. But many people have found themselves in dark spaces; many were innocent just like her. Faith has showed up for others in many ways. Spirit is eternally present, but you have to see it to open it.

Furthermore, exchanges between Rowlandson and her native captors’ highlight that no matter what side you’re on, humanity is directly affected by various evil entities bound to Earth’s third-dimensional reality. These demons on Earth masked by motives of greed, violence, and sickness. Its inhumane. These are karmic cycles that make us all victims of a system that controls us. A system attached to the need for power. Further down the timeline the collapses in reality have begun and continue. Exposure of ignorance and illusions is reaching its peak. Many are awakening to inner growth and recognizing a physical reality cast away from illusions. Alchemy is in the process. This text is an ancient text told from a bias perspective. It reminds us of why we are still in this cycle today. Even while you have the Bible, the bible we have today, removed the Gospel of Thomas that confirms that the soul is eternal and reincarnation is real. Because the same English that colonized the natives, were the same entities that translated the Bible to have things removed so that certain people miss the message.

Our idea of a sacred text like the Bible is masked. Our idea of religion isn’t the Truth. World war three is already here and it’s in the mind.

 

  • Brianna Barajas

 

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Human Ethics?

By: Isabel P.

The Colonization of the Americas and the treatment of indigenous populations is something that has made us as a species question our ethics towards one another. Like the previous readings had us question colonial views towards indigenous populations, especially the normalized view of natives being that of them being of beastly nature only due to the reason that they lived differently with less “modern” technology, retaliated towards colonizers/perpetrators of hate crimes, and believed different religions. A definite influence in these views, actions, and literature were influenced by colonizers, like John Dryden, by Puritan ideology and being that Rowlandson’s narrative became widely popular this spreading this view further. Like, for example, the demonization of their use of tobacco for example. This making natives seem other.

But, is she right to be upset over her captivity and the losses she suffered during that time? No. Like the prompt stated colonizers essentially caused the mass murder, “The American Holocaust”, of native populations. And in her case she is just one person; to their thousand or more natives who died due to the greed of the colonizers. Human ethics has always valued morality. But, think of this in a philosophical way an arm for an arm; is only right, right? Especially when in comparison only her family members and daughter passed. In comparison to Dryden’s “The Indian Emperor” , Rowlandson makes her struggles standout in comparison to these people. She points out her pain towards the death of her daughter and having to leave her in the ‘wild’. I find it amazing that she uses her religion to push through and uses it to rationalize the death of her daughter. Although she’s grieving; why couldn’t she express similar remorse towards native populations killed by colonizers that she knew of? Especially with her knowing the pain of loss. Wouldn’t an ethical human being understand? Or perhaps she has the bias due to her being captive and her town being under attack. It’s understandable, but it’s sad that during this historical era, and for decades after, history covered up the cruelty of colonizers and literature like this was not given a critical eye; nor a 360 view of the situation. What needs to happens so atrocities like this aren’t covered up in history is to learn the situation through these texts, native texts, and by empirical facts that we know about that time period.

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

There Is No Power In Silence

By: Katherine Hernandez

There is a theme of whitewashing American history at the expense of the ego of eurocentric powers, and this is especially true when it comes to literature that is presented to society. And unfortunately, the whitewashing of historical events has led to the erasure of the struggles minorities face at the expense of colonization in North America. Topics of genocides and sexism are still prevalent in our society today, and this is due to the silencing of so many voices that occurred during the gentrification that took place in America.

The stereotype of indigenous people being barbarians comes to life in Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. A nation full of genocide towards indigenous people suddenly becomes the victim of its own atrocities when there is pillaging of a white community by indigenous people. Suddenly the acts of killing people for simply being is seen as an inhumane act of greatest proportions. And while it isn’t hard to sympathize with Mary and the circumstances she finds herself in, it is very hard to maintain that empathy for her when looking at things from an outside perspective. Mary faced hardships, that is true, with the death of her child, at the mercy of indigenous people, as a human with the capability to empathize with her, one very much does so. Mary is a mother and it isn’t very hard to feel the grief and strife she faces during those 11 weeks of the narrative she shares with us, however in a much larger perspective, does that mean that the genocides that are happening in America are only important when white people begin to face them? There is a double standard at play, in which the death of so many indigenous people is not taken into account.

There is again a theme of romanticism that envelops the story Mary shares with us; the pain and grief she goes through are not real until it solely happens to her. It is as if the eurocentric mindset does not permit the suffrages of minorities and instead paints them out to be less than of others (others being Europeans) The intolerance towards the indigenous people dehumanizes them and Mary’s narrative only pushes that vendetta further. Much like Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor, the identity of these indigenous people has stripped away and their sole purpose seems to revolve around the colonizers. Their stories are lost midst the eurocentric romanticism that is displayed. It is not just a genocide of indigenous groups, it’s genocide of their existence. Their voices are not given a platform thus muting out struggles during the era of colonization in America.

Two Sides to Every Conflict

Rowlandson’s narrative complicates the history between the natives and the English. Rowlandson accepted her faith, after a while, she believed God had it planned out for her and she would let everyone know what happened once she was okay and no longer suffering. But that is not how many people who had gone through that saw it. These individuals were afraid and scared for their lives, they most likely didn’t believe this is what God wanted for them. This only made it worse for the colonizers, they knew people or were aware what individual had to go through the same faith they had put Native Americans through. There had to be some understanding that they had it coming, they did it first, they caused so much pain and death.

I’m not saying it is okay but what these pieces hide or hint at is racism. Dryden’s The Indian Emperour was full of racism, making it seem as if colonization is actually okay by romanticizing it with Cortez and Cydaria. Dryden makes it seem like colonization is the only way to help the natives and it needs to be done. While Rowlandson makes the natives appear as the bad ones in this situation, shooting at her and her family, and not providing her with food. Although what the natives did was wrong they were not the bad ones from the start, the colonists put themselves in this situation, they were put in a situation where they had put so many natives in before. I believe this makes the natives look worse, maybe they wanted the colonists to feel the same way they felt but getting them in that same situation was a mistake. It shows them as individuals who had no empathy or understanding, it is inhuman to do the same thing that was done to them. Both, colonists and natives, were in the wrong and appear to be racists towards each other. They seem like children trying to blame one another, neither taking responsibility for the things they have done, especially the colonists. They blame the natives when really they ‘started it’ and won’t own up to what they did. It all appears to be more complicated and contradicting to the colonists but the natives should have known, ‘fighting fire with fire’ was not a good thing to do and was not the only option.

-Sandy Morelos

Timeless Injustice

The relationship that Mary Rowlandson was able to develop during her time with the Native Americans, only confirms the history of intolerance against this group of individuals. A women of prestige witnessed the massacre of her town and endured watching her baby die in her arms during her captivity. Nonetheless after a few weeks of capture she developed a lasting admiration for these very same people, whom only weeks ago killed many of her kin. By the end of her story her readers have moved on just as she has. Now we all know that time heals all, but does time heal voids created by death? Seems to be in the case of Rowlandson, new friendship is the real fill of heartache. Friendships she established with King Philip, his family, and community living in the wigwams were all the perfect foundations to move on from the horrors at the start of the story. Being able to create friendships, noting she was not raped, noted living amongst the starving tribe she was given food, confirms the inexcusable behavior from the British colonizers. These people were pushed to match the abrasive behavior from the white settlers only after they were subjected to horrors first. Whatever hill Winthrop envisions is nothing nearly as perfect America strives to be, the crest may have a good economy and healthy babies but the bottom is built-up rotting bodies. We cannot excuse Americas past history, just accept the decades of unnecessary intolerance dished out to anyone different of culture or religion. Clearly the genocide of the Native American people was especially unnecessary because in a short amount of time Rowlandson was able to accept and appreciate the kind nature of these people.

-AM Jackson

Dominance Through Non-existent Matrimony

In John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour” we follow a romanticized tale about the Spanish conquering of Mexico – which we are very quickly able to see was written to act as political propaganda. Throughout the play we see Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez depicted as a sympathetic and peaceful man who wishes to live in harmony amongst the Aztec people he has gone to colonize. Along the way he falls in love with Moctezuma’s daughter Cydaria despite of the fact that there exists an imbalance in power dynamic and social standing. However, as we ultimately discover reaching the end of the play, Cortez and Cydaria are never brought together in holy matrimony or in any form of official union leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

It is my belief that Dryden wrote the Spaniard and Aztec woman’s finale in such a vague manner because he was hinting at the idea that a love between a pure European imperialist and a noble Aztec woman was that of a “forbidden” one. In this case I mean ‘forbidden’ in the sense that because of the difference in power and social ranking it would be impossible for a love like theirs to exist even in a fictional world. In a period of restoration, which England found themselves in, it is understandable as to why Dryden found it fit to steer away from an ending resulting in marriage between a man of status and a woman of a lower standing. I think the entire motive revolved around the idea of maintaining the European man at a higher level and had Cortez married Cydaria they would then be seen as equals – something Europe and its people would not have accepted so easily. At this time England and Europe found itself in a need of power and reassurance of it so Dryden could not afford to even remotely suggest that the native Aztecs and the Spanish conquistador were on an equal footing because that would mean they were not on a higher pedestal than Indians.

Considering the audience that would have been exposed to this play Dryden’s decision to write their ending in this way also makes sense because the elite audience would have not liked to see any positive interaction with a member of such an “inferior” class. Overall, I believe that Dryden’s final decision to not write Cortez and Cydaria ending in matrimony was a decision based on the need to establish power for the European man and to set a clear understanding that they held an elite status over the Aztec people and those they were colonizing. From my point of view I think if Dryden would have written Cortez to marry Cydaria it would have tarnished the idea that Europeans held authority over the colonized and in his ending it is clear he was establishing a Spanish dominance.

-Beverly Miranda-Galindo

Before It Was Disney

When initially reading the play, I kept coming back to Pocahontas, specifically the one produced by Disney. Why this one in specific stems from the fact that the intense romance between her and John Smith at times felt to unbearable. While I applaud its intentions to depict a strong woman of color, we find that like the common Disney princess trope, the men are the ones fighting the “real” war and the women are just damsels in distress.

Why I connect it with this piece is the push for both Cydaria and Cortez to be in love does not feel natural which, given its contexts, is understandable. But for the time that this piece was intended for, this so-called love (which felt more like physical attraction) was more to justify the actions of the war. Since the whole focus being on loyalty and love, it is almost as if the war is a background character as the audience is more concerned with the love triangle novella rather than the political issues at hand. All this works to act as a distraction so that those who are in the audience are misguided and led to think that Cortez is a man of morals while not truthfully reflecting the unbiased historic narrative. It is better to have a feel-good ending hence the way it ends how it does, but without the hint of unity almost conveys that there is no equality.

By not having it explicitly stated, the idea of a man of status marrying outside of societal expectations hints at how such a relationship can never really exist for the idea of it would mean their humanization meaning that the indigenous people who should be treated with respect.

-Xotchitl Garibay

The Colonization of The Americas Through Love or Cruelty in “The Indian Emperor”

As one reads through this play, they will quickly start to realize that it is heavily embedded in imperialistic propaganda. This was no mistake as the Restoration theater was supported by Charles the 2nd, as he understood the power of influence it had on its audience. This was off the cuff of the English Civil War and the restoration of the monarchy. After Cromwell’s son Richard adopted his place as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, England had become fed up with Puritan rule due to Richard’s lack of resolve, and the monarchy was restored. The time to reestablish faith in the monarchy was here, and Charles the 2nd knew this could be done by theater which Puritan rule had previously banned.

This is where John Dryden’s infamous play comes in. This play can be viewed as the monarch’s desired perspective of the colonization of the Americas. On one side we have a depiction of the colonization of South America by the Spaniard Conquistadors. And on the other side the ideal depiction of an English colonization of North America, being shown through the relationship of Cortez and Cydaria. Cortez is blatantly made the protagonist of the play and is depicted as our hero for who we should root for. Throughout he speaks with his officers about taming the new world.

“As if this Infant world, yet un-array’d,
Naked and bare, in Natures Lap were laid.
No useful Arts have yet found footing here;
But all untaught and salvage does appear.

Cort.
Wild and untaught are Terms which we alone
Invent, for fashions differing from our own:
For all their Customs are by Nature taught,
But we, by Art, unteach what Nature taught.”

Here his officer and him are referring to the natives of the land, “unteaching” their ways of life and much like the wild land they tame, they too must tame the natives through their higher art and way of living. And we see this come into actualization with Cortez’s relationship with the native Cydaria. It is no mistake that it is a male colonizer falling in love with a female native instead of swapping genders. The imperialistic ideas of the monarch are coexistent with masculinity and the perceived power of control it had in that time period. Cortez offers up his love over his duty as a Spaniard soldier, seeing the Spaniard’s barbarity as wrong but being obligated to comply to their orders. This, along with Montezuma’s torture scene, paints the Spanish as cruel and executing an unloving and unholy colonization. While through Cortez’s love for Cydaria, painting the ideal imperialistic colonizer. And by proxy of association, painting England’s colonization of the Americas as a loving act.

I believe the reason Dryden does not explicitly end the story with Cortez’s and Cydaria’s union is because of the ideal imperialist picture. Cortez while loving, is but a teacher to the untamed world. Their union and matrimony cannot be, for it is not meant to be in the eyes of imperials. The lives of the imperials would be much simpler if the natives did not inhabit that land. They do not wish to “tame” them out of want but out of necessity to not be seen as unjust and unholy in the public eye, while also situating the natives under their thumb.

-Daniel Rodriguez