The Iroquois Creation Story, by David Cusick, Upon the Burning of Our House, by Anne Bradstreet, and On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, by Phillis Wheatley, all portray the importance and evolution of religion in early American society. Although each of these works discuss religion, they are not all based on the same beliefs. Cusick’s story is based on the existence and creation of good versus evil. Bradstreet’s poem illustrates an unwavering faith in Christianity. Wheatley addresses the life and afterlife of reverend Whitefield in her poem.
While all of these literary works are different, they all helped shape religious beliefs in early American society.
The Iroquois Creation Story accounts the “history” of creation for the Iroquois people. Soon after the story has begun, one can see the similarities in Cusick’s work and that of creation in The Bible. The main characters are Enigorio and Enigonhahetgea, also known as the minds of good and evil (Cusick 22).
The twins try to live in harmony but fail to exist peacefully together. A battle for control and power of the land takes place until, ultimately, evil is banished into the earth. His last words stated he “would have equal power over the souls of mankind after death” (Cusick 23). This symbolism of God and Satan’s battle in the Bible is very important to the growth of religion. If the people had not heard this story first, it might be hard for them to comprehend the teachings of the Bible.
While Bradstreet may not agree with all the Puritan rituals, she did not let that affect her relationship and faith in God. During one of the hardest times in her life, showed through her poem, Upon the Burning of Our House, she kept her faith in God and allowed Him to give her peace through her trial. Anne was still human and had her moment of sorrow and farewell to her belongings “Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity” (Bradstreet 123). After that she brushed away the pity and came to a realization. Her wealth was not here on earth, and she had never placed her hope in objects that would turn to dust, rather, her “hope and treasure lies above” (Bradstreet 123). After this realization Bradstreet remembers the she has a house “on high erect” (Bradstreet 123) and all of her troubles seem to melt away. This poem allows the reader to evaluate Anne and her faith and find strength for themselves in her words. Bradstreet’s work strengthened the religious community and gave them inspiration to further their faith.
On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, by Phillis Wheatley is a type of tribute to the reverend and his life here on earth, as well as a description of her belief of the afterlife. It is obvious that Rev. Whitefield made a great impact on Wheatley’s life, which tells the reader how much he, and religion, impacted her writing. Being a woman of faith, she describes his ascension as one of biblical belief, “There Whitefield wings with rapid course his way, and sails to Zion through the vast seas of day” (Wheatley 406). Phillis goes on to describe his sermons and passion for his congregation. Finally, she concludes, with peace, that he suffers no more and will be brought up when the rapture takes place, “Whitefield no more exerts his laboring breath… Till life divine re-animates his dust” (Wheatley 406). Without Whitefield’s guidance and influence on Wheatley, her religious views could still be that of her African heritage. If Phillis chose to believe in her traditional views, her writings could have shaped the minds of her readers in a very different way.
The Iroquois Creation Story, by David Cusick, Upon the Burning of Our House, by Anne Bradstreet, and On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, by Phillis Wheatley, illustrate the growth of religion in early American society. Religion can be traced in all of these works but, they are not all based on the same beliefs. Cusick, Bradstreet, and Wheatley all voice different opinions and views on religion and their individual beliefs. While these literary works are different, they all helped shape religious beliefs in early American society.
Baym, Nina and Robert Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Ninth Edition Edition. New York: Norton. 2017. Print.