Please describe the historical context in the 1640s the aspirations, reasons and conditions of a 20 Year-Old Puritan Bride in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A bride in Puritan New England, and more especially in the Massachusetts Bay colony could anticipate that she would be subject to the will and control of her husband. All women were considered to be the weaker sex, and obedience to her husband was mandatory. John Winthrop wrote that a 'true wife" could only be happy "in subjection to her husband's authority."  Winthrop's sister once wrote to him:

I am but a wife and therefore it is sufficient for me to follow my husband

  Although she was allowed to retain control of any property she brought to the marriage, she had no control or ownership of any property attained while married to her husband, and she was not allowed to vote or take part in political discourse. Husband's did not discuss business with their wives, and she was little more than a servant. At home she was responsible for washing, cooking, cleaning, making beer and butter, and supervising the children. In church, she was expected to remain silent.  She was expected to be modest in all regards except in piety to which all good Puritans were to aspire zealously.  Her marriage banns were to be posted on the church door prior to her wedding in the event of any objection thereto by a member of the community. She was to meet all her husband's reasonable demands, and if she failed to satisfy his needs, including his conjugal needs, she could be expelled from the church.

Her greatest possible transgressionwas, of course, Adultery, in which instance she was divorced from her husband and publicly shamed by  being forced to wear a large "A" indicating her sin.