. Mary Rowlandson Essay, Research Paper
Was Mrs. Mary Rowlandson at all that different from Mrs. Sarah Kemble Knight? Mrs. Rowlandson, the one who was born in 1636, lived only thirty years from Mrs. Knight, the one who saw the light of day in 1666. To repeat, their journals varied in time of only a few decades, but they were quite different in many ways. Saying that these journals, the ones written by Mrs. Rowlandson and Mrs. Knight, were different does not necessarily mean that they were not alike in some ways. Their journals similarly showed the use of subjective writing and allusions, however, they were different in tone, ability to surmount difficulties and sufferings, attitude towards food, and religiousness. So although being considerably similar in some characteristics, Mrs. Mary Rowlandson and Mrs. Sarah Kemble Knight generally wrote differently from each other.
Certainly Mrs. Rowlandson’s writing was different from Mrs. Knight’s, and here are some characteristics that show this difference. It is true that Mrs. Rowlandson was faced with some serious circumstances, such as being captured by Indians and losing her child. Consequently, she expressed her literary mind quite seriously, in other words, her tone showed no humor what so ever. Throughout her journal, Mrs. Rowlandson is constantly threatened and terrified, therefore this is a reason for her serious tone. An example of a sufficient reason for her serious tone occurs when an Indian warns her to have her child quit moaning, moaning brought because of lack of food, moaning that is only to cease when this child is dead, “Your master will quickly knock your child on the head” (24). This threatening along with others is a reason for her serious tone. Mrs. Rowlandson was not quite successful in surmounting difficulties or sufferings. For instance, after crossing the river to meet Philip’s crew she explains how her spirits fall and thinks that these men will kill her: When I came ashore, they gathered all around me, I sitting alone in the midst. I observed they asked one another questions, and laughed, and rejoiced over their gains and victories,Then my heart began to fail; and I fell aweeping, which was the first time to my remembrance that I wept before them. Although I had met with so much affliction, and my heart was ready to break, yet could I not shed one tear in their sight; but rather had been all this while in a maze and like one astonished. This shows that, when faced with a difficulty, Mrs. Rowlandson cannot surmount them, but instead cries and feels sorry for herself. Mrs. Rowlandson’s attitude towards food, however, does change, which in turn shows somewhat of a strengthening or maturing. For example, Mrs. Rowlandson states how her standpoint regarding food has changed, “I have sometimes seen bear baked very handsomely among the English, and some like it, but the thought that it was bear made me tremble. But now that was savory to me that one would think was enough to turn the stomach of a brute creature” (29). This shows that her attitude towards food is somewhat less picky and that her tastes have changed to a much broader list. Mrs. Rowlandson’s religiousness, on the contrary, does not either change or diminish, but it is forever strong through everything. A primary way of distinguishing Mrs. Rowlandson’s religiousness, one that is strong and everlasting, a religiousness that has always been with her, was through her gratefulness to God. An instance that shows that she was grateful occurs just after the death of her child, “I have thought since of the wonderful goodness of God to me in preserving me in the use of my reason and senses in that distressed time, that I did not use wicked and violent means to end my own miserable life.” (26) This shows that she thanks God for her life, and that she is grateful that God is always in goodness. In brief, all of these topics are exhibited by Mrs. Rowlandson.
It is true that Mrs. Knight’s writing differs from Mrs. Rowlandson’s, and here are some characteristics that show this difference. Certainly Mrs. Knight was not faced with as drastic circumstances as Mrs. Rowlandson, she lived in a more developed New World and had things quite easy. As a result, she had a great sense of humor, therefore her tone was not only joyful, but also humorous. An example of her humorous tone occurs when she is given food by a dirty looking inn keeper, “paid sixpence a piece for our dinners, which was only smell” (35). This quote is mostly humorous because of her saying that her dinner was only “smell”. Moreover, Mrs. Knight was quite successful in surmounting difficulties. For instance, when threatened with the possibility of death in the rapid moving river, she stuck to her guns and crossed the water safely, “I now rallied all the courage I was mistress of, knowing that I must either venture my fate of drowning or be left like the children in the wood. So, as the post bid me, I gave reins to my nag; and sitting as steady as just before in the canoe, in a few minutes got safe to the other side” (34). This shows that Mrs. Knight was able surmount difficulties, and that she was also quite mature. On the other hand, she was not mature in her food acceptance. An example of viewpoint towards food occurs when she is served mutton from an inn, “in a little time she brought it in; but it being pickled, and my guide said it smelled strong of head sauce, we left it, and paid sixpence a piece for our dinners, which was only smell” (35). Mrs. Knight did not only not eat the mutton, but she also went to bed supper less. Mrs. Knight’s religiousness was there, but not as strong as most Puritans. For example, she does not continuously quote from Bibles and thank God for everything. She was not strict with her religion. To sum up, all of these characteristics were exhibited by Mrs. Knight.
Although being primarily different, Mrs. Rowlandson and Mrs. Knight were also similar in some ways. Both Mrs. Rowlandson and Mrs. Knight used subjective reporting, in other words, they were not detached historians. For example, Mrs. Rowlandson uses subjective reporting when leaving for Princeton, “It is not my tongue, or pen, can express the sorrows of my heart and bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure; but God was with me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along and bearing up my spirit, that I did not quite fail” (24). Mrs. Rowlandson is speaking from her heart here and is using her own beliefs. Similarly an instance of subjective reporting used by Mrs. Knight occurs when she crosses the treacherous river, “Left like the children in the wood” (34). This shows subjective reporting using her beliefs of “children in the wood”. Mrs. Rowlandson’s response towards danger, however, is different from Mrs. Knight’s reaction. Mrs. Rowlandson buckles at the face of danger. For instance, when confronted with the fear of death at the gathering with Philips men, Mrs. Rowlandson begins to cry, “they would kill me” (28). This shows that before she even knows if she will live, she begins to break into tears. Whereas, Mrs. Knight’s response to danger is quite good, in other words, she is strong when faced with danger. For example, when confronted with danger of the unstable canoe, she gets through it and goes on, “The canoe was very small and shallow, so that when we were in , she seemed ready to take in water, which greatly terrified me…but was soon put out of this pain by feeling the canoe on shore, which I as soon almost saluted with my feet” (32). This showed that Mrs. Knight wanted to get through this little dilemma, and this also showed a somewhat brave response to danger. For these reasons, Mrs. Rowlandson and Mrs. Knight were similar and different.
It is true that Mrs. Mary Rowlandson and Mrs. Knight were primarily different, however, they also were similar.