When Columbus landed in the New World in 1492, he changed the world forever. When the Puritans landed in the same New World, they changed the tides of America’s future everlastingly as well. They brought with them many ideas that are still being used today. The Puritan work ethic was a huge portion of the beliefs carried by the community; it was the idea that all members should strive to do as much as they could for the community, and all should work to gain God’s favor. The Puritans’ idea of duty before self-fulfillment was another evident notion every Puritan held.
They believed that everyone should do their obligations first and foremost before anything else. The life of a puritan was full of hard work which was done willingly to gain the favor of God and of the community, and contained the concept of fulfilling each person’s individual responsibilities and then only partaking in activities which where self-fulfilling; in our modern society we volunteer and each member of the family is given duties to complete, similarly to the jobs the Puritans held 100’s of years ago. In the Puritan world everything revolved around God.
He was the cornerstone for every action they took. For them, one way to get redemption from the sins that they had committed was to work and toil for God and the people around them. In the Puritan era people helped one another, not for the chance to gain a reward, but a chance to gain favor amongst themselves, strangers and God. As William Bradford states, “But when he grew weak, they had compassion on him and helped him,” this refers to the time when the new colonists helped the sick sailors who had brought them there (Bradford 21).
They did this just for the sake of helping others and in doing so gained more of God’s favor. This work ethic inspired the generations of people who followed, and created the standards for American work ethic, which are still being used today. In modern day America, people volunteer at a variety of places to help the poor, needy or injured. My parents when they had just got married spent quite a while at an orphanage in India to help the poor kids there, and I actively volunteer at Mercy Medical to help the sick and injured.
Neither my parents nor I had to do so, but it gave us a sense that we were benefiting our communities. Like us, many people in America and the world help others, making the world a better place with every helpful hand. Just as the puritans strived to do work, they also strived to do work which was necessary, even if they did not relish it. For instance when given the choice between trimming tree to make it look better, or helping the neighbor sow his crops, most Puritan’s would choose the later. They had the notion to do your duty first, and all else came afterwards.
The Puritan’s believed that the woman of the household should be a good mother and wife first and all else came second. In the same household a man should be a good husband for his wife and a supportive father of his children. In the community, there is not one person who does not have some sort of duty. In Anne Bradstreet’s poem To My Dear and Loving Husband, she describes her love for her husband as his wife, “I prize thy love more than mines of gold or all the riches the East doth hold (Bradstreet 35). Bradstreet made it quite clear that she was a wife before anything else, being a poet came afterwards.
Many of her other poems are about family and hers sense of duty toward them. Puritan’s strove to make their children’s lives better, and by being responsible they entailed their kid to do so as well. In modern day America, every member of the household has a specific task that they must do. An example of this is my family, where my parents both maintain their jobs, while tending to the household chores of cooking, cleaning, etc. while my brother and I both do our jobs of doing well in school, while helping our parents where we can. Whether Puritan or modern day American, or Indian in my case, the idea is the same, everyone has tasks they need to do to maintain a functioning household. The Puritan work ethic simply entails that, only after all the work that is needed to be finished is done, should a person partake in other activities or chores. In the Puritan lifestyle family was important; to maintain a good family all the members of it needed to be diligent of their duties.
When someone volunteers in today’s world they are doing more work to make their society better, when the Puritans did extra hard work they tried to make their community better, and to have a better standing with God. The Puritan’s also did their duty to the best of their ability, and each member of the family functioned together to get their work finished. Both the Puritans and Modern day Americans were partook in hard work and were consistent with their duties to improve their community, and make it a better place for all to live in. All we have to do is maintain these standards in the future, do you think we can?
Courtney from Study Moose
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