The theme of God and faith in early American literature, especially during the early period which in my opinion is made to understand a deep understanding of religion and a emphasize the writings about different situations related to religion. The early days of American literature can be seen as a way to reflect the religious beliefs and ideas followed by early settlers and colonists which means promoting an ethical understanding of life. As I studied American literature, I realized that it is filled with an expression of religion and he power that it has as well as an acknowledging the strength of God and faith to help human beings go through the adversity and triumph in the toughest situations.
During the Puritan’s era we can see that the Puritans are generally known as hard working and God-fearing people. They were also a group of well-educated people which can be seen when they show their expressions in their writings. The writings of the Puritans on God and faith reflected their beliefs, especially religion which was essential to their existence and therefore early American literature is filled with different religious beliefs.
The role of religion in during this period can also be known in regard to the different journals and writings which was published and kept by the early settlers who recorded their daily life. God and faith became a central focus in their time, because Puritanism was a time for reflection on the spiritual needs of life and this was shown in their writings, which gave a deeper understanding of their religious experiences and ideas.
Through Puritan writers, we can see that they put most of their focus into making their work God centered. They also believed that all human beings that are born is born sinful and that God’s grace was given freely to everyone. A good person to look at during this time would be Mary Rowlandson. Mary Rowlandson was a woman who tends to use the Bible consistently to give herself a sense of hope and security. She also thanks God during situations that could seem like nothing to be thankful about. By the end of the puritan era, new ideas came about and started challenging the faith of the Puritans, which is also known as the Age of Reason. As the Puritans in the past saw God’s involvement with the workings of the universe, they also believed that God’s gift to humanity was the ability to think in a more reasonable manner.
Shifting from the Puritan era to the 18th century the idea of God and faith has changed during the years of these centuries. During the eighteenth century, there was an interest in the power of human reason and rationality. For certain people, there was a move away from religion and wanted to encourage others to come back. For example, Olaudah Equiano who was a puritan writer and, in his story, The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano he portrays his love for God. Equiano writes his thoughts which we can see in this narrative of his life is highlighting the main events. When he tells about being away from his siblings and being filled with terror he explains by way of simplicity, which gives the reader a sense of knowledge of the situations. Another would be Jonathan Edwards who was a minister concerned with the intense emotional which seemed to be chaotic.
Edwards was the type of man who spoke to the people just as the other preachers would have done. He used the same kind of intense and emotional imagery in his works. He wanted the people to understand the love and the idea of salvation. Also, during this time, deism came into the play. Those who believed in deism believed that God created the world and withdrew. God was seen as a clockmaker who wounded the world around mathematical and scientific laws and left it to run on its own and that God was not involved in human affairs. This is made to be different from Puritan beliefs, because those who felt that after Adam and Eve sinned, evil took over the hearts of people no matter how nice they are according to the Puritans. Soon after came the Great Awakening which the ministers of this time wanted their people to experience God through emotions not just follow moral laws. They inspired them to change their beliefs or keep their own beliefs which just a deeper perspective.
Throughout the 19th century many different terms come to light regarding religion through many different people. We have the manifest destiny which is the idea that God granted America the right to expand causing a great expansion westward. As a result of this, many American Indians were being moved away from their homes to different reservations or they were killed. Also, during this time, we hear the negative romanticism associated with many different beliefs as well. Morse Peckham describes this as a period of religion and social isolation along with many other things. Romanticism appealed to Americans as it emphasized an emotional, individual relationship with God. The Romantic movement was closely related to New England transcendentalism, which portrayed a less restrictive relationship between God and the universe.
In conclusion, after discussing the theme God and faith throughout early American literature during different centuries we can see not much has really changed. Things were still strict and only thing new is the ideas that came to light such as the different beliefs and what people should believe in even though they were all similar in their own unique way. Defining God and faith meant many different things for different people. For instance how, some believed he existed and was involved with the world while some didn’t and believed it was a scientific and mathematical law that controlled different things of the world.