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In the poem, "Upon the Burning of our House" by Anne Bradstreet..do you think she is a...

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tooty1 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:54 AM via web

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In the poem, "Upon the Burning of our House" by Anne Bradstreet..do you think she is a "good" puritan or not?

Do you believe her words? She hesitates, but says heaven is the only the thing that matters, items of possesion have no value. What is your take on this?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:09 AM (Answer #1)

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It's always hard to know what a poet or other writer truly means, but I do not see any signs of irony here.

Instead, I see some amount of a sign of a struggle.  At first, she is thinking about all the things she has lost.  She thinks about where she used to sit, where she used to lie.  She thinks about how no visitor will ever sit under that roof again.  So at that point she seems sad.

But then she gives herself a talking-to.  She reminds herself that all on Earth is vanity and true treasures are stored up in heaven.

So I think she's serious because she is weak at first -- she's tempted to be unhappy, but then she snaps herself out of it.  That sounds realistic to me.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:07 AM (Answer #2)

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Yes, I believe Anne Bradstreet's words when writes of losing her house to fire in the poem about the burning of 'our house.' As a strict Puritan she would have been used to the idea of not putting too much store on earthly goods but trusting in building up heavnly treasures in heaven through good living and good works. Yet still, as a wife, homemaker and mother to such a large brood of children, it was hard to see all she had built burnt to naught. Yet, all she had built did not perish - she still had the most important two things she had created - her family and her faith. She tries to console herself with this thought and I think she succeeded - but with difficulty as all humans are frail and flawed. Puritans were used to trying to overcome temptation and to be sure she did not have many luxuries for herself - the few she had she offered to God and was thankful for their lives.

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