Anne Bradstreet: Poems
A Puritan’s Response to Loss: An analysis of Anne Bradstreet’s “Upon the Burning of Our House”
As a Puritan, Anne Bradstreet strove to live her life according to Calvinist doctrine while still having to cope with the struggles of her human condition (Mooney). When Bradstreet’s house burned down, she was struck with the reality of life’s hardships and presented with an opportunity to do one of two things. If she were to yield to her humanity and allow herself to be overcome by the loss of her worldly wealth, she could then blame God and turn away from Him. If she were to let her soul win out over that humanity, she could embrace the Puritan belief that God is still good and that she has a greater treasure waiting for her in heaven. In this she could draw closer to God, having learned to let go of her worldly possessions. Bradstreet struggles within herself for a time, but in the end she is able to arrive at a place where she accepts the loss of her material belongings and has her sights re-aligned on what truly matters – her relationship with God.
When Bradstreet realized that her house was on fire, her first response was to immediately cry out to God the moment she first saw the flames when she said, “I, starting up, the light did spy, / And to my God my heart did cry” (Bradstreet ll. 7-8). The thought of blaming or being...
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