In History of Plymouth Plantation, locate and analyze two examples of Bradford's use of allusions to the Bible and of references to God's intervention in events. What purpose might these devices serve his account?
William Bradford's A History of Plymouth Plantation is full of biblical allusions. A major purpose in writing the history was to illustrate the important role played by God in the survival and establishment of the Pilgrims' colony at Plymouth. One example of this is very early in the account, when Bradford describes the landing near Cape Cod:
Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof.
The idea that the Pilgrims were the beneficiaries of divine protection, and were instruments of God's will, is central to Bradford's worldview as it is revealed in the book.
After the first winter, when the Pilgrims died in great numbers, Bradford is still struck by the divine mercy in allowing the settlers to survive at all:
The spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortality began to cease amongst them, and the sick and lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them; though they had borne their sad affliction with much patience & contentedness, as I think any people could do. But it was the Lord which upheld them, and had beforehand prepared them; many having long borne the yoke, yea from their youth.
Defeats, setbacks, and adversity were regarded as God's means of chastising the Pilgrims for insufficient piety, or for "wicked" behavior, and successes, survival, and prosperity were understood as God's blessing on the endeavor. The crucial thing for Bradford was that the Pilgrims were engaged in a holy mission, one which God would favor as long as they stayed true to its purpose.