A Brief Introduction to Puritanism


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A brief history of the Puritan movement in early America. This is to serve as background for the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.

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A Brief Introduction to Puritanism

  1. 1. PuritanismSetting up The Crucible
  2. 2. Origins In 1534, British King Henry VIII severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church and created the Church of England (Anglican Church) The Church of England remained very similar to the Catholic Church except that it did not recognize the pope as supreme authority. In the early 17th Century, extremely conservative religious groups did not like this direction and set sail to the newly “discovered” America.
  3. 3. Puritans or Pilgrims? Pilgrims Established American colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. Broke completely with the Church of England Flagship: The Mayflower Puritans Founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony around present day Salem and Boston in the 1630s Attempted to reform the Church of England Flagship: The Arbella
  4. 4. 17th Century New England
  5. 5. Calvinistic Beliefs Followers believed in the teachings of John Calvin (1509-1564) Calvin taught that human beings were depraved sinners and that God had chosen only an unknown few for salvation. Those not chosen by God were condemned to eternal damnation
  6. 6. Calvin’s effect No one really knew if he or she was saved or damned; Puritans lived in a constant state of spiritual anxiety, searching for signs of God's favor or anger. Being good was not enough. It was important to be converted in the soul.
  7. 7. Puritan Society Individuality was frowned upon. Conformity to religious beliefs was required and dissent was only tolerated under strict limits. Governments were also to be held responsible for the salvation of the people. (NO SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!) Hard work and self-discipline were very important Puritans strongly disapproved of sexual relations outside of marriage, of drunkenness, and of activities such as gambling, drama (acting), and celebrating holidays, such as Christmas.
  8. 8. Puritans considered the woods the home of the Devil. But what, or who, is in the woods?
  9. 9. Puritans believed in demonic forces, such as witchcraft and magic, which were sent to tempt
  10. 10. Salem Witch Trials Refers to a series of hearings around Salem, Mass. from May 1692 to May 1693 in which courts attempted to prosecute men and women accused of witchcraft. Any accusation of witchcraft would be taken seriously, while denials would not be. Overall, 19 people were executed during the witch trials and several others died while in jail. This is the setting (time and place)for The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
  11. 11. Decline of Puritanism By the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Puritanism was on a clear decline. Fiery speakers such as Jonathan Edwards (P. 72) brought a brief revival of Puritanism in New England in the late 1720s and early 1730s, but this did not last long.
  12. 12. Blame for decline Puritans blamed this decline on swearing; a tendency to sleep at sermons; the spread of sex and alcohol, especially in taverns, where women were known to bare their arms and, upon occasion, even their breasts; and, most telling, the marked increase in lying and lawsuits.
  13. 13. Puritanism’s Effect on America While there are not many “Puritans” in America today, their influence is still felt. Here are some of the believed influences: Hard work and discipline are valued work traits Survival and self-sufficiency The quest for religious freedom, while being intolerant of other religions A negative view of alcohol A negative portrayal of sexuality and of the human body