Year of Publication

2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Marion Rust

Abstract

Leading into the American Revolution, Puritan captivity narratives gained a resurgent popularity as nationalized sentiment burned towards political upheaval. Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative (1682) was reprinted six times between 1770-1776, signifying an incredible interest in Puritan stories that seemed to antithetically inspire a progressive and radical revolution against England. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God or A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson enhanced an already fervent revolutionary sentiment, transforming a seemingly straightforward captivity narrative into a totem meant to represent the oppressive struggle between England and her most coveted colony.

Such a literary revival taps into an early American sentiment that understood and valued captivity for its power both to define American freedom and elicit revolutionary action. By examining the original 1682 text and numerous supplementary and critical articles and works, this thesis unveils how and why Mary Rowlandson inspired a seemingly unrelated insurgency nearly 100 years after her captivity. By aligning Mary Rowlandson’s iconic mythology alongside contemporary depictions of captivity and bondage, eighteenth-century propagandists appropriated her image and story to meet their revolutionary rhetorical requirements.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2019.058

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