In 8th century BCE, a Greek poet known as Hesiod visioned the blessed isles. His vision directed him to the west. In 4th century BCE, a philosopher known as Plato from Greece shared a similar vision to the west. He visioned the lost city underwater, also known as Atlantis. In 484 AD, an Ireland monk St. Brendan had a vision from god to travel west to the blessed isles. He lived on an island known as Canada today. He taught Indians many things including agriculture. Marco Polo had an influence on others from his long dangerous but successful journeys to China.
In 1477, the Caxton press was invented. This invention is what made Marco Polo’s book, The Travels of Marco Polo so popular. Hence influencing others to travel west, such as Christopher Columbus. Sir Walter Raleigh funded multiple expeditions’ to the west. The expeditions’ resulted in returning to England due to lack of provisions. Although the explorers were unable to establish a harmonious relationship with the Indians, the explorers were exposed to ethnocentrism and studies of native culture.
The first characteristic of Exploration Literature is that it was written by explorers and navigators. John Smith was a seasoned veteran of survival and was not a professional writer. The second characteristic of Exploration Literature is written to a specific audience such as the king, queen, and the backers. These journals or texts specifically describe their lifestyles, daily struggles, and document important events. The third characteristic of Exploration Literature is that these texts are what literary historians call “history in the making.
In Smith’s text he writes, “Now ever once in four or five days, Pocahontas with her attendants brought so much provision that saved many of their lives, that else for all this had starved with hunger” (92). This Event would be considered as history in the making because Pocahontas brought provisions to the colonists which ultimately caused the survival of Jamestown. The fourth characteristic of Exploration Literature is that these texts are quite ethnocentric. Ethnocentrism is the evaluation of other people’s culture according to the standards of one’s own culture.
In Smith’s text he says, “each hour the fury of the savages, when god the patron of all good endeavors, in that desperate extremity so changed the hearts of the savages” (84). In this passage, smith is referring to the Native Americans as savages. Ironically in this passage the natives are actually trying to help them with presenting provisions. Although the Native Americans are doing a good deed for Smith and his men, he is still referring to them as savages. This particular event shows some aspects of Ethnocentrism. The fifth characteristic of Exploration literature is that these texts contain versions of the “American Dream” theme.
After exploring the new land, Smith came to see the opportunity here for a new kind of middle society, with no extremes with private ownership. The first characteristic of Settlement Literature is that it emerged out of the colonies, out of settling America. During the time of King Philips War within the settling period, Mary Rowlandson was a captive and only woman in the 17th and 18th century to write her own captivity narrative. The experience of captivity was very common during the settlement period that the estimate of tens of thousands is the usual number historians ascribe to it.
The second characteristic of Settlement Literature is that it’s frequently didactic and/or propagandistic. Rowlandson’s text is important because it documents so many details of Native Americans life in the late 1600s, the experience of captivity, and the mindset of a puritan woman. Her text informs her readers with descriptions of events, environments, and native culture. Rowlandson’s descriptions about the experience of captivity might not have been known in literature or history without her narrative. The third characteristic of Settlement Literature is often deeply personal.
Rowlandson’s narrative is a deeply personal experience. She uses faith in God and the use of scripture to keep her strength and reason, to keep moving on through this horrific experience. Rowlandson’s son in the text acknowledges a piece of scripture that states, “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord: the Lord hath chastened me sore, yet he hath no given me over to death” (267). This passage of scripture is a personal reason Rowlandson has faith in being returned to safety. Rowlandson states, “Which was my guide by day, and pillow by night” (274).
This passage also supports how spiritually close and deeply personal the bible and scripture is to Rowlandson. The first characteristic of the Revolutionary Period is the distrust of the mystical and mysterious. As discussed in the classroom inference to the Salem witch trials, it supports this particular characteristic. People were being burned at the stake because of the mystical and mysterious. During this time people were moving away from practicing everything within the parameters of religion or spirituality, due to the distrust in the mystical and mysterious.
People began to branch out to something new, such as science and philosophy to explain rational and irrational events. In Benjamin Franklin’s text, he uses logic and reasoning to explain situations supporting the distrust in the mystical and mysterious. Franklin states, “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while used key is always bright” (458). Franklin is saying that the reluctance to work will waste away a person while work keeps them in good order. The key which is not often used begins to rust, but while the key that’s often used, through where it stays shiny.
The second characteristic of the Revolutionary Period is the confidence in the attainment of progress by education & humanitarianism as the way we progress; highest duty is; interest in individuals. Franklin articulated a self-deterministic attitude opposite of the Puritan idea of God’s blessings as a way to progress, claiming that economic salvation and all human successes came from not walking with god but from logical thinking, industry, and frugality. Franklin states, “God helps them that helps themselves” (456).
This quote supports Franklin’s ideas because it establishes the importance of taking an initiative and humanistic philosophy. The third characteristic to the Revolutionary Period is trusted an appeal to reason to provide solutions to all human problems. Unable to find a relation to this characteristic in Franklin’s text. The Declaration of Independence is a perfect example of this characteristic. This document was not only to declare independence from Great Britain, but it also presented all the problems and bad things the king had done to all the colonies.
Separating from Great Britain would provide solutions to all human problems. The fourth characteristic to the Revolutionary Period is reliance of human “sympathy” also called “sentiment” as a moral guide, which gave each individual the power to control his/her own spiritual destiny. The reader would distinguish feelings of sympathy to some of the literature from this time period, due to the horrible events that occurred such as slave trade and their harsh transportations to the colonies. Franklin seems to be exempt from this characteristic, due to his literature being a basis of logical thinking and reasoning.