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Thomas Sweets “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet”: Critical Analysis

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Isolation can be defined as the state of being apart from others, a lack of emotional contact with those in the surrounding environment. It can happen anytime, anywhere, like being isolated from family, and friends. Anne Bradstreet paved the way for females to have a voice when many women were restricted from various opportunities, such as getting an education and gaining meaningful employment outside of the home. Thomas Sweet’s “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet” talks about how Bradstreet felt isolated and constrained in her writing due to her gender. She was further hindered by the lack of female writers from whom she could lean on as a support system. Mary Rowlandson was a Puritan who was kidnapped by the Indians and kept as a prisoner for three months while mistreated and isolated from her family. At times, she wanted to die while being isolated, and her faith helped her to survive. David Downing’s. ‘‘Streams of Scripture Comfort’: Mary Rowlandson’s Typological Use of the Bible discusses the role of the Bible in helping Rowlandson cope with her isolation while enduring those hardships.

There are a plethora of factors that contribute to isolation which is an involuntary mechanism, and the effects of prolonged isolation can be very damaging. Isolation manifests itself in many different ways. Isolation leads to consequences for many people, difficulty in relationships with others and leading to lifelong emotional problems. Isolation can be one of the most destructive feelings humans are feeling.

Many people go through the positive and negative effects of isolation, deriving inspiration from it while at the same time feeling hurt and annoyed.

Bradstreet questioned the stereotypical beliefs of Puritan society in her poems. Timothy Sweet article,(Gender, Genre, And Subjectivity in Anne Bradstreet’s Early Elegies) analyzed Anne Bradstreet and her position on feminism in Puritan society through her poetry. As far back as the 16th century, women were forced to hold dual domestic roles as housewife and mother, while also acting as subordinates to their male counterparts. Puritan women like Anne were restricted from various opportunities like education and jobs outside of the home. Since women had such job limitations during this time, there were very few female writers that Anne could turn to for advice. However, that did not prevent her from challenging the norm. In her prologue, she acknowledges that she was fortunate enough to be highly educated when few women were not. Anne leverages her education to evolve into an important writer by adapting her voice to her audience, creating both public and private poems. Anne’s private works were much more original and honest than her public poems. She never intended her private works to be shared with others. In her public works, she felt anxiety because she was not able to write freely due to the submissive role of women in society.

In Sweet’s article, he mentions how Bradstreet felt isolated in her writing because she was not able to write how she truly felt. If Anne had had female writers to turn to for support or guidance, she may have had less anxiety. However, she was, “overwhelmed by and excluded from the essentially male tradition of authorship,” and did not have enough societal support to go against this norm (Sweet 152). Ultimately, she paved the way for future female writers, which also affected her ability to write. She was “forced into a position of literary subservience” because she was one of the first female writers with limitations on what she could write and had to set the precedent (Sweet 152). Therefore, Anne’s writing was negatively affected by these limitations and she most likely faced the pressure of being the leading female poet during this time, which brought on “ill effects, both on the poet’s self-definition and on her art” (Sweet 152).

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Mary Rowlandson Women’s Indian Captivity Narrative focuses on many women captives who are kidnapped by Indians. Rowlandson a Puritan woman, writes about her personal experience while being held in captivity by the Indian tribe. Mary Rowlandson had a well-off lifestyle before her captivity. Rowlandson played the role as a mother, and housewife and was close to her family. When she was separated from her family she felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Rowlandson chooses this order of writing to keep track of what occurred during her captivity. Downing describes how Rowlandson endures many hardships caused by the Indian tribe who burns down her house, separates her from her family, and makes her watch her own daughter die in her arms. Rowlandson’s faith in God sustains her and gives her the strength to overcome her struggles during captivity. Downing writes in detail about how she survives the hardships with God’s help. “In her ordeal, Rowlandson draws on Scripture more than eighty times in the form of direct quotations, allusions to biblical characters, or echoes of biblical phrases Downing (252). These references to the Bible are used to interpret her experience typologically and to provide spiritual lessons for herself and for the Puritan community as a whole. She presents what occurred during her captivity in the language of spiritual autobiography and gives evidence of God’s sovereignty and grace, and of her own place among the elect” Downing (252).

She maintains the Puritan belief that everything happens for a reason and that it was God’s doing. Downing also speaks about Rowlandson’s concern for her soul and her doubts about her own salvation. She rebukes herself for her wickedness and sins which are hardly significant, such as taking the Sabbath for granted. Downing says, “But she is not really confessing her own wickedness as much as she is describing the Puritan view of unregenerate man…The passage articulates her misgivings about her fate as a captive but also about the fate of her soul” (253). Downing mentions many examples in his article showcasing Rowlandson”s reliance on the Bible which is God’s word. When Mary is going through hard times, she would read the Bible to seek God’s guidance and relate it to her own experiences. “This emphasis upon the spiritual significances of her experience is perhaps the central feature of Rowlandson’s narrative” Downing (257). Frequently, Rowlandson wants to die. This is due to her lack of nutrition and hunger. Most importantly, Rowlandson suffers emotionally from being separated from her husband in addition to the grief when her daughter dies in her arms. What she does during these stressful times is read the Bible to get the strength to continue living. She knows God is with her and that lifts her spirits.

The Great Gatsby shows us how money can corrupt a person. The author Fitzgerald seems to be arguing that in American life, money frequently corrupts one’s values. Money controls their every move and shows us what it is like to live of luxury Throughout the novel, there are many characters that have expressed isolation.

Daisy in the Great Gatsby is an example of someone who is emotionally isolated. In chapter 1, Tom receives a phone call from his not-so-secret lover, and Daisy is acutely aware of the nature of the intrusion. Not able to confront him, she engages in meaningless conversation instead:As if [Tom’s] absence quickened something within her, Daisy leaned forward again, her voice glowing and singing.’I love to see you at my table, Nick you remind me of an rose, an absolute rose. Doesn’t he?’ Daisy’s emotional isolation seems to extend to her daughter as well. When Nick asks her pointedly about Pammy at this same dinner, Daisy completely avoids the question. Furthermore, Daisy was alone for the birth of their one daughter. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling… ” (21). She was very isolated from Tom during this time which created her suspicion of Tom and Myrtle’s affair. Daisy uses attention to help cope with his affair. An instance is when she kisses Gatsby in her own husband’s house because she wants to receive her attention. Daisy lets her fear of isolation control her life.

Gatsby is another character that deals with isolation not joining the crowd and having a good time, instead, he is left all alone, like always. He uses these huge celebrations to try to cope with his loneliness. But sill Gatsby is right back to where he started. Once the celebration is over and people leave, Nick expresses Gatsby’s house by stating “a sudden emptiness seemed to flow from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host, who stood on the porch, his hand held up in a formal gesture of farewell” Gastby (55). This help manifest the idea that in Gatsby’s life he is always left by himself in the end. Gasby focused on earning Daisy back which does not get to do. Tom’s reaction to his affair with Daisy also causes isolation for Gatsby. When Gatsby dies, Fitzgerald makes the idea of loneliness/ isolation Gatsby’s life known when no one shows up to his funeral. Gatsby’s isolation is also conveyed through Tom’s reaction to his affair with Daisy.

Mary Jemison in her Narratives was adopted by her two sisters to replace their brother that died fighting, she was forbidden to speak a word of English as well as having a new name. By being stripped of the way she speaks and being given a new name, she loses a sense of her culture and is beginning to have a new one in the Senecan tribe. Mary had trouble adjusting to her new Senecan culture and was “treated as an object by the Indians she is not afforded any opportunity to reach the status of the transgressive subject either” (Tarnóc, 2009). This only strengthens the argument that she was not accepted as a member of the tribe even after being adopted by a family in the tribe.

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Thomas Sweets “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet”: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
“Thomas Sweets “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet”: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
Thomas Sweets “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet”: Critical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2023].
Thomas Sweets “The Early Elegies of Anne Bradstreet”: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Jan 28]. Available from:
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