Puritan and Protestant Traditions in Literature Questions and Answers

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Analyze the role of religion in colonial American literature. How did the religious views of colonial authors shape their literary works, their styles, and their interpretation of historical and political events?  

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It is virtually impossible to separate religion from any context of early American colonial culture, especially in the New England colonies established as religious havens for Puritans seeking a new life. During the 1600s, most American colonial writers lived in these Puritanical colonies and expressed opinions on religion as it related to society and daily life.

For example, one of the most famous pieces of literature from this era is a sermon titled Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God, published by the minister Jonathan Edwards. Edwards's sermon reflected the religious views of the Puritanical community: that all people were inherently sinful and that a life of discipline, prayer, and self-denial was necessary in order to avoid triggering the wrath of God. While his sermon seems extremely harsh by modern standards, it reflects the thinking of many Puritans in the New England colonies at the time: in order to live well, everyone must commit to becoming free of sin.

However, what was...

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