During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, women in America were dominantly expected to be ethical, simple-minded, and largely uneducated members of their community. As a result, female writers would often face strong social scrutiny based on this governing gender subordination because of their challenging positions to these norms. The act of writing as a woman during this period was thus considered a bold act of defiance against such limiting standards. Subsequently, as evidenced by the trials of Anne Hutchinson, a brazenly intelligent and authoritative woman would inevitably meet ridicule and estrangement within her community. In order to effectively challenge the social mores of the period and assume legitimacy as an author without this kind of rejection, women writers were therefore forced to exhibit a more subtle defiance within their craft. To do so, writers like Anne Bradstreet and later Susanna Rowson constructed female narrators who successfully fulfilled many of the feminine expectations of the community, while allowing the readers to trust that identity on the basis of rationale and reason.
[...] This safeguards the content of their writing from possible condemnation from society as deviant, thus allowing women writers to persevere within the community rather than work against the acceptance of the community. Rowson also presents the content of her novel through a prudently motherly lens in her narrative voice, which deters the discriminating connection an audience might make between the author and the sensational content of the novel. She uses the femininity of her voice to present the content of her novel as deeply scrutinized in accordance with relevant gender roles and motherly characteristics. [...]
[...] Bradstreet anticipates these societal, “carping tongues” (Bradstreet 397) that will doubt her legitimacy as a writer and make it necessary for John Woodbridge to validate her writing as her own upon the publishing of The Tenth Muse. Similarly to the authors of slave narratives or other works from marginalized members of society, Bradstreet's poetry integrates her frustration for legitimacy within the narrator's voice and reveals the tension between her identity as a writer and her limited place as a woman. [...]
[...] Relating their efforts back to the societal rejection experienced by a more outspoken Anne Hutchinson, in deploying those words, one woman was direct and defiant and the other discrete and playful, we must not be fooled into seeing only their strategic differences, for one very serious purpose united them: to take their place among (Reid 540). The veiled defiance of Anne Bradstreet and Susanna Rowson strategically integrates their legitimacy as writers as an accepted characteristic of the existing gender standards within their communities. As an effect of this strategy, these writers successfully embedded their words, chock-full of daringly subversive intent, very quietly into the primary foundations of American literature. Works Cited Bradstreet, Anne. Flesh and the Spirit.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Colonial Period to 1800. [...]
[...] Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin 403-405. Prologue [To Her Book].” The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Colonial Period to 1800. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin 396-397. Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of the Epistolarity.” American Literature. Vol No June: 1991. 225-241. Jarenski, Shelly. Voice of the Preceptress: Female Education in and as the Seduction Novel.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. Vol No Spring: 2004. 59-68. Knight, Sarah Kemble. [...]
[...] Journal of Madam Knight.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Colonial Period to 1800. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin 585-602. Reid, Bethany. for Light:' Anne Bradstreet's Monstrous Birth.” The New England Quarterly. Vol No December: 1998. 517-542. Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple. New York: Oxford University Press Stanford, Ann. “Anne Bradstreet: Dogmatist and Rebel.” The New England Quarterly. Vol No September: [...]
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