What are the fundamental differences in William Bradford's text "Plymouth Plantation" and Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" ? Can I present them in a thesis statement?  

The two texts are similar in the sense that they were both written by influential Americans, but their topics and approach are very different, and one might argue that Paine's text was more influential in the long run.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To compare these two important American writers might be tricky in some ways, because of differences in their topics and approach, but ultimately, one might gain some valuable insight into the development of the collective American consciousness.  Bradford wrote in the early 1600's as an historian of sorts, recording the day...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

To compare these two important American writers might be tricky in some ways, because of differences in their topics and approach, but ultimately, one might gain some valuable insight into the development of the collective American consciousness.  Bradford wrote in the early 1600's as an historian of sorts, recording the day to day events of the Mayflower passengers once they embarked into the new world.  Bradford's manuscript passed through many hands over the years, and is still regarded by many historians as possibly the best primary resource available documenting the beginning of English colonization.  Bradford is a fairly objective narrator, and does not seek to romanticize the first European colonists' experiences, but the faith and trust in religion is a thread that runs through his narrative as religion, and the freedom to practice it, was an important part of these colonists' lives.   

 Paine, however, was writing approximately a hundred years later, and tended toward the more philosophical, although he was certainly more objective than romantic about his topics.  His pamphlet, Common Sense, for example, was a non-emotional, but thoughtful argument as to why it was inefficient for the English colonies to remain tied to Great Britain. The Age of Reason was Paine's thoughtful rumination on the state of organized religion, and again, consistent with the title of his text, his arguments are more reasoned than emotional.  Ironically enough, Paine was arguing not against the existence of a deity, but rather against man's attempts to institutionalize said deity, but he was still blacklisted as an athiest by many, and lost some of the esteem he had earned with the publication of Common Sense.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team