Writers are characterized by three factors. These factors are style, tone, and purpose. William Byrd and William Bradford were two colonial writers however they took completely opposite approaches toward writing. During these times, journals, diaries, and sermons made up the literature. Byrd and Bradford were no exceptions with their works of A History of the Dividing Line and Of Plymouth Plantation respectively. Whether it was the difference in writing styles, the different purposes for writing the stories, or simply each writer’s tone, their techniques were far from similar to one another.
One difference between Bradford and Byrd was their writing styles. Bradford used the plain style to record and to describe his account of the New World. Plain style writing is the form of writing used by the Puritans. This writing style tended to stay away from figures of speech and tried to keep it plain, simple and right to the point. A great example is when the settlers first arrived and Bradford noted that the people “had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succor” (31). This statement explained how difficult it was to arrive to such a barren land even after all the hardships assail. Bradford did an excellent job in his writings to give the real and accurate accounts of what happened.
On the other hand, Byrd wrote his perception of the New World in sharp contrast to the writing style of Bradford. Byrd used forms of ridicule to record his account of what took place in the new colonies. A classic example of this technique was when Byrd called the sudden immigration of people to the New World a “modish frenzy” (50). This statement shows that Byrd thought it to be just a modern fad to start a life in the New World. Byrd wrote using his own perception of colonial life and struggle, therefore making it less historically accurate than Bradford’s writings. These two styles characterized each man and greatly attributed to the huge contrast in their writing preference.
One of the three factors that characterized both writers was purpose. A large contrast in the writings of Byrd and Bradford was the purpose for which they were written. The main reason that Bradford wrote his story was to inform the reader about the hardships and struggles of Puritan life in the New
World. He also wrote his story to show God’s hand in their experiences. Many Biblical references to God such as, “but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity” (31), were used in his writing for this very reason. This as well as many other religious references showed how much of an impact religion had on the Puritans. Bradford wanted to convey this dependence on and impact of God and religion throughout his writings. Byrd’s writing was more biased and opinionated because he wrote it to amuse the reader.
For example, all throughout his story he constantly made fun of settlers. He mentioned during the story that the settlers “built a church that cost no more than fifty pounds and a tavern that cost five hundred” (52). This little tidbit served no purpose other than to criticize the colonial settlers and had no historical significance whatsoever. He made fun of the settlers to explicate change in the settlers’ way of life. Bradford’s purpose greatly contrasted with that of Byrd.
The last contrast between Byrd and Bradford was their attitude or tone towards the subject they wrote about. In “Of Plymouth Plantation”, Bradford used a serious tone. His tone remained simple and unbiased throughout the story. The fact that he chose to use this tone is because Bradford was a very religious man that closely followed the Puritan way of life. Most of all, he wanted to record the true accounts of what took place without mixing personal thoughts or ideas with fact. On the other hand, Byrd used a very satirical and humorous tone. This satirical tone was conveyed throughout his entire story.
An excellent example of satirical writing was when Byrd explained how colonists were too lazy to plant their own crops, so instead they “were forced to take more pains to seek for wild fruits in the woods than they would have taken in tilling the ground” (52). This quote by Byrd clearly showed his frustration with the colonists very. Byrd’s tone differed from Bradford’s, because Byrd’s story was never meant to be an accurate historical account of colonial times. Byrd possessed different feelings toward matters that took place, and this dramatically changed his tone.
To conclude, writers are never the same. There are many different types of writers all across the world, from ancient to modern times. William Byrd and William Bradford were no exception to this. Their style, tone, and purpose totally changed the outcome of their writings which were based upon similiar incidents in history. People have their own views and beliefs of a certain situation, and more often than not, that view will be different from person to person as clearly shown in comparing Byrd to Bradford.
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