BASIC CONCEPT OF LITERATURE IN THE PURITANS AGE (1620 – 1660)
Puritans were extreme Protestants church which follow the Calvinist theology and refused to conform to Anglican Church which was established by Queen Elizabeth in her early reign. Queen Elizabeth established the Anglican Church to put an end conflict between the Catholics and Protestants. Puritan also called non conformist and dissenters. Anglican Church is a national church in England with the monarch of England as the highest leader and the church official accountable to the monarch.
Puritanism covering the doctrines and the behavioral based on the religious morals. Puritanism meant the observance of strict religious rules and morals. Life was stern, pleasures were forbidden such as games of chance, dancing round the maypole, horse racing, and etc. Puritan very different than catholic. Puritan more concern to preach than the ceremonies. Puritans were forbidden drink alcohol and sexual relation outside the marriage. Those conditions of course influence the literature in that era.
During puritans, the literatures had been colored by religious concept. There was no drama at all, because it was forbidden by puritan’s authority. They considered that drama is harm. Theatres had been closed since the puritan’s era.
Puritans literature were not romantic but critics and intellectual (it more stimulating the brain than the emotion). Puritans poetry is gloomy, pessimistic and serious.
There are three kinds of poets during puritan. That is metaphysical poet, cavalier poet and puritan poet. Metaphysical poets were use unconventional metaphors, unusual conceit consistently from the beginning to the end. They used science terminology and the theme mostly about humans physical and spirituals. The cavalier poets had another spirits. They loved life. They more concerns to worldly ambitions. Their motto is”catch the day” or “make pleasure while you are alive”.
THE SOCIAL BACKGROUND OF THE SOCIETY IN THE PURITANS AGE
As we know, at the beginning of Puritanism is a religion activities but it became political movement because the Puritan had been pressed by the King (James I and Chates I). In this case, the King always put aside the Puritans. The King also being hated by the people because of their despotism. The Puritans struggle against the despotism of the King and the Anglican Church. The conflict became more and more manifest and develops into a civil war (1642 – 1649). The war had been won by Puritans and they made a commonwealth government with Oliver Cornwell as leader.
Actually, the conflict between Puritans and Anglicans began at Queen Elizabeth reign (1558 – 1603), but the former kept still. They did not rebel, they did not want to cause any social or political disturbance. The people were united by a common patriotic real under the great queen.
As a matter of fact, the conflict emerged again under the successor, James I (1603 – 1625). James I came from Scotland who had been educated in Europe. James more emphasis the theories than the real daily life. James used the “Divine right of Kings” theory which meant that God gave the special right to the King. King is God representation on earth. King has an absolute authority. Disobey the King meant that disobey God.
James used this theory because he has bad experience at Scotland when the feudal and spiritual leaders were disobey and disloyal to him.
The disturbances emerged for the first time when the Puritan asked permission to the King, so they could do their worship on their own way. They wanted the simple ceremonies and concern to the preaches. They also proposed the translation of the bible. James refused the first proposal and agrees with the second proposals. As the consequences, hundreds of clergy were being dismiss from the Anglican Church.
Since then, the non-conformist emerged which moved outside the church and the members were groups that has influences in public, house of commons, businessman and gentry.
Parliament of course fought for the rights of the people, for democracy. These troubles became very serious indeed under the next King Charles I (1625-1649). Charles reign was similar with James I. Charles even promoted LAUD as an Archbishop and gave LAUD mandate to force the unity in Anglican Church. The main purpose of LAUD is to exterminate Puritans from Anglican Church. The conflict became worst and develops into a civil war between the King and the Puritans. The King was supported by feudal, Anglicans, Catholics, royalist/cavaliers. Puritan was supported by feudal, businessman, gentry, Scottish, new model army, etc.
Puritans won the civil war, but there is a disagreement between the parliament and the new model army that lead by Oliver Cornwell. At last Oliver Cornwell won the war and became England leader for eleven years (1649 – 1660).
Puritan culture emphasized the need for self-examination. Women roles just to sustain family life. Women were typically not permitted to speak in church but they were allowed to engage in religious discussion outside of it. Authority and obedience characterized the relationship between the parents and children. Proper love meant proper discipline. The family was the basic unit supervision. A breakdown in family rule indicated a disregard of God’s order. Puritans expected mothers to care for their children tenderly to keep God present.
The essence of social order lay in the authority of husband over wife, parents over children and master over servants in the family. So the husband is the head of wife and the wife is the head of family. Puritans has strict views on sexual morality and disapproves of recreations. They were forbidden to drink alcohol. Puritans publicly punished drunkenness and sexual relations outside of marriage. Boys could go to Latin schools and ready to master prefatory Latin, Greek and Hebrew grammar. The girls only could go to reading and writing school.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF LITERATURE DURING PURITANS AGE
There are some of the characteristics of literature during Puritan age:
• The literature on Puritans particularly biographical literature on individual Puritan ministers, and indeed the interests of Puritans in the narratives of early life and conversions made the recording of the internal lives.
• The historical literature on Puritans is quite problematic and subject to controversies of interpretation.
• Drama did not rise at all because it’s forbidden by the leader of Puritans which considered that drama is harm. Therefore, the theatre had been closed during Puritan age.
• Puritans literature is gloomy and pessimistic and serious.
• Puritan literature lost its romantic desire but critical an intellectual. If it is romantic, the romance found only in form, not in emotion.
• There are three kinds of poets, that are metaphysical poets, cavalier poets and puritans.