Is "To My Dear and Loving Husband" an example or an exception to the claim made that Bradstreet was forced into a position of literary subservience?In The Mad Women in the Attic, Gibert and Gubar...

Is "To My Dear and Loving Husband" an example or an exception to the claim made that Bradstreet was forced into a position of literary subservience?

In The Mad Women in the Attic, Gibert and Gubar claim that since Bradstreet has no female precursor she is necessarily forced into a position of literary subserviance in which the only possible authorial stance is a "pose of modesty [that] has its ill effects, both on the poet's self-definition and on her art"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Criticisms are always equivocal whenever critics judge a writer by standards of their age or another age other than that of the writer.  Such seems to be the case with Gilbert and Gubar who suggest that Anne Bradstreet has somehow compromised her authorial voice and her art.

In order to be fair to any artist, we must always consider the era in which this artist exists.  Anne Bradstreet was first and foremost a devout Puritan, and as she raised her eight children, she somehow found time to write poetry, but she did not seek an audience or publication.  When her brother-in-law, John Woodbridge, published her poetry unbeknowst to Mrs. Bradstreet, her position in the Puritan community was somewhat comprimised as she was perceived as being rather arrogant to aspire to a place among the august company of established male poets.

Today, Anne Bradstreet is remembered best for her simple, personal lyrics about her family and her love for her husband.  For, the tenderness and poignancy of these poems touch deeply many a reader as Mrs. Bradstreet accepted freely her position as wife and mother in the Puritan community.  In addition, there is an inner strength of the poet that emanates from these poems, not a weakness or "pose of modesty."  Instead, her humility is from her deep religious faith and acceptance of her role as wife and mother.

And, since Puritan women were expected to be reserved, domestic, and subservient to their husbands and not expected or allowed to exhibit their intelligence or wit or charm or passion, Mrs. Bradstreet seems rather bold, if anything, in her authorial voice:

I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.

Of course, one must always remember that since Mrs. Bradstreet never intended for her poems to have been published, the ones about her family were of any extremely personal nature.

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