Both Mary Rowlandson and the Wife of Bath use the Bible for support, though the nature of this support is different for each woman. The Puritan Mary uses it to find hope and courage during her captivity, while the more worldly Wife uses it to provide argumentative support for her...
Both Mary Rowlandson and the Wife of Bath use the Bible for support, though the nature of this support is different for each woman. The Puritan Mary uses it to find hope and courage during her captivity, while the more worldly Wife uses it to provide argumentative support for her behavior when it is challenged.
In her captivity narrative, Mary finds comfort in the Bible. One of the natives asks her if she would like to have a copy of the Bible, and she accepts it gladly. At this point, Mary is despairing, exhausted, and believes God has forsaken her. However, she reads chapters from Deuteronomy, and then her attitude changes:
So I took the Bible, and in that melancholy time, it came into my mind to read first the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, which I did, and when I had read it, my dark heart wrought on this manner: that there was no mercy for me, that the blessings were gone, and the curses come in their room, and that I had lost my opportunity. But the Lord helped me still to go on reading till I came to Chap. 30, the seven first verses, where I found, there was mercy promised again, if we would return to Him by repentance; and though we were scattered from one end of the earth to the other, yet the Lord would gather us together, and turn all those curses upon our enemies. I do not desire to live to forget this Scripture, and what comfort it was to me.
The Psalms also inspire Mary to take courage and rely on God's mercy. For her, the Bible is a sign from God for her to endure this experience without complaint or loss of hope in divine grace.
The Wife of Bath's relationship to the Bible and religion in general are less conventional than the pious Mary Rowlandson's. The Wife of Bath dresses richly, has been married several times, and delights in earthly love, behavior that was generally looked down upon by the church authorities of the period. However, the Wife uses Scripture to her advantage: for example, she claims that it is okay for her to marry many times because in the Book of Genesis, God demands that humans be fruitful and multiply. This is in opposition to those who have told her that people should only be expected to marry once because Jesus is only described as visiting one wedding in the Gospels. She is using the same exact technique as her opponents.