In the passage below from Of Plymouth Plantation, how do Bradford's rhetorical features reflect his intent and ideological perspective? (Chapter 9)“But here I cannot but stay and make a pause,...
In the passage below from Of Plymouth Plantation, how do Bradford's rhetorical features reflect his intent and ideological perspective? (Chapter 9)
“But here I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amazed at this poor people’s present condition; and so I think will the reader, too, when he well considers the same. Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation… they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succour…. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms…. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men—and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not.”
1. Bradford relies on desolate diction to demonstrate the downtrodden spirit of the people who fall under his leadership. Words and phrases such as "vast,""sea of trouble," "weatherbeaten," "wilderness," and "wild" coupled with negation (notice the many "no's" and "nor's") illustrate just how isolated the people of Plymouth feel after their never-ending series of misfortunes. Bradford uses such word choice to show that he understands and is not unsympathetic to the plight of the early settlers. At times in his book, he might seem as if he does not identify with their suffering because his faith appears to enable him to grasp the meaning behind their trials, but in this passage he strives to show that he does see their pain.
2. The author also employs a strategy known as "piling on" or "cataloging" as he chronologically lists the many tribulations plaguing Plymouth's inhabitants. Much like his word choice, the cataloging style serves to make the reader aware of each devastating event that the settlers faced. Notice the lengthiness of each sentence--it is as if Bradford cannot finish the sentence because he keeps remembering yet another trial endured by his people.
One of the most interesting features of this particular passage from Bradford's work is his focus on the primarily physical struggles of the settlers. It is as if he stresses those struggles to demonstrate that one's spiritual welfare does not have to diminish even in the face of harsh physical situations.
Bradford employs figurative language, including vivid metaphors, to convey the trials and triumphs of the Pilgrims, and he also uses alliteration to add beauty to their story. His intent is to convey the Pilgrims in the light of saintliness and to make them examples for future generations, much as John Winthrop wanted the Puritans to be "a city upon a hill."
After speaking of the Pilgrims crossing the literal ocean, Bradford writes that they faced "a sea of troubles." This is a particularly arresting metaphor because it follows the mention of the literal ocean and stands for the trials the Pilgrims would face in the New World. Bradford uses a series of alliterative phrases, including "poor people's present" and "seek for succor." These phrases add musicality and beauty to the Pilgrims' plight, making their journey seem epic in nature. He also uses repetition, such as "wild beasts and wild men," to emphasize the savagery the Puritans would face and their courage in doing so.