Michael Wigglesworth Criticism - Essay

Harshapan Singh Ahluwalia (essay date June and December 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ahluwalia, Harshapan Singh. “Salvation New England Style: A Study of Covenant Theology in Michael Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom.Indian Journal of American Studies 4, no. 1-2 (June and December 1974): 1-12.

[In this essay, Ahluwalia compares Wigglesworth's theology as expressed in the Day of Doom to the school of Covenant Theology articulated first by William Perkins.]

Perhaps no poem in American literature has been so much ridiculed as Michael Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom (1662). Whereas the modern reader finds the doomsday verses “smoking with hell-fire and brimstone theology,”1 Wigglesworth's contemporaries...

(The entire section is 4619 words.)

Jeffrey A. Hammond (essay date spring, 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hammond, Jeffrey A. “‘Ladders of Your Own’: The Day of Doom and the Repudiation of ‘Carnal Reason’.” Early American Literature 19, no. 1 (spring 1984): 42-67.

[In this essay, Hammond explores the spiritual logic of Wigglesworth's broad and apparently harsh judgment of the damned and unregenerate of humanity.]


Modern opinion has generally not been kind to Michael Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom. Most assessments echo that of Moses Coit Tyler, who maintained that in the poet's “intense pursuit of what he believed to be the good and the true, he forgot the very existence of the beautiful” (277). Even such a...

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Alan H. Pope (essay date 1985)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Pope, Alan H. “Petrus Ramus and Michael Wigglesworth: The Logic of Poetic Structure.” In Puritan Poets and Poetics: Seventeenth-Century American Poetry in Theory and Practice, edited by Peter White, pp. 210-26. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1985.

[In this essay, Pope introduces the idea of applying the logic of Petrus Ramus to Wigglesworth's poetry, a method of explication that would be accepted and adopted by Wigglesworth's later critics as well.]

No other Puritan poet has suffered more negative criticism and disrespect than Michael Wigglesworth, author of America's first best-seller, The Day of Doom. To many,...

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Eva Cherniavsky (essay date summer 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Cherniavsky, Eva. “Night Pollution and the Floods of Confession in Michael Wigglesworth's Diary.” Arizona Quarterly 45, no. 2 (summer 1989): 15-33.

[In this essay, Cherniavsky applies a psychoanalytic method to interpreting Wigglesworth's autobiographical writings and poetry.]

And if a man once go beyond those bounds of Gods speciall appointment, & what nature alloweth or calls for, I know now where he will stay.

—Michael Wigglesworth, untitled sermon

Extravagance! it depends on how you are yarded.

—Thoreau, Walden...

(The entire section is 6660 words.)

Ronald A. Bosco (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bosco, Ronald A. “Reading the Poems of Michael Wigglesworth.” In The Poems of Michael Wigglesworth, edited by Ronald A. Bosco, pp. xviii-xxxiv. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1989.

[In this excerpt, Bosco urges a re-evaluation of Wigglesworth's merits as a poet, observing that his contemporaries found his religious writings to be worth repeated readings.]

As artist and as devout Puritan, Wigglesworth, to be sure, is a figure not without qualities that tax the critical sensibility as well as the good will of the modern reader. It may be, as Donald Barlow Stauffer has said, that Wigglesworth deserves to be ranked “several rungs down the ladder”...

(The entire section is 8305 words.)

John C. Adams (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Adams, John C. “Alexander Richardson and the Ramist Poetics of Michael Wigglesworth.” Early American Literature 25, no. 3 (1990): 271-88.

[In this essay, a response to Alan H. Pope's 1985 essay, Adams contends that proper understanding of Wigglesworth's Day of Doom depends on an understanding of both logic and the rhetorical theory that influenced the author.]


In a recent essay, Alan H. Pope has written that “no other Puritan poet has suffered more negative criticism and disrespect than Michael Wigglesworth, author of America's first best-seller, The Day of Doom” (210). He provides an apt summary of the...

(The entire section is 7753 words.)

Alan Bray (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bray, Alan. “The Curious Case of Michael Wigglesworth.” In A Queer World: The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, edited by Martin Duberman, pp. 205-15. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

[In this essay, Bray places Wigglesworth's memories of homosexual desires expressed in his autobiographical writings into the context of cultural ideas about manliness, both to clarify the import of Wigglesworth's comments and to illuminate the definition of manly social roles.]

In this essay I propose to look at the reactions of certain individuals in early modern society to the fact of their male homosexual desires. The compass of my material is therefore...

(The entire section is 5754 words.)

Jean S. Filetti (essay date spring 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Filetti, Jean S. “Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom.Explicator 58, no. 3 (spring 2000): 127-30.

[In this essay, Filetti interprets the poem The Day of Doom by attempting to infer Wigglesworth's methods of teaching his readers, focusing on Wigglesworth's use and arrangement of biblical parables.]

Michael Wigglesworth acknowledged that he was willing to “play the fool this once for Christ” if that ornamentation—poetry—helped instruct and bring others to the path of righteousness (qtd. Nye 38). With the goal to instruct, why does Wigglesworth, a pastor-poet knowledgeable about the entire range of biblical stories, use Gospel parables...

(The entire section is 1286 words.)