John Smith’s “A Description of New England” and William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation”
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In the two literary works, “A Description of New England,” by John Smith and “Of Plymouth Plantation,” by William Bradford, the two authors represent New England differently. One way they represent New England differently is by the tone of how they tell their personal stories, varies noticeably. Both authors use certain tones to attract and persuade targeted audiences. John Smith wrote of what a wonderful place New England was, while on the other hand Bradford wrote about the difficulties and realities of New England. John Smith, a pilgrim who arrived in the Americas, writes a description of the new land.
In “A Description of New England” he shows what a wonderful world of vast food and pleasure await. However, William Bradford, another pilgrim who arrived on the coast of Massachusetts, in Plymouth, gives his take on the early settling of the new land. In “Of Plymouth Plantation” he writes a description of how the pilgrims actually lived and what really happened in Plymouth. Both authors also contribute differently to a view of America’s land and its people. I also know how the people back in England must have felt and what they thought about New England, the good and the bad, because there are people today that try to get other people to travel to their country or state or donate money to far away countries that are poverty stricken.
In “A Description of New England,” Smith starts by describing the pleasure and satisfaction that risking your life for getting your own piece of land brings to oneself. He also suggests that building your own house, planting your own crops, and having “God’s blessing and his own industry” (Smith 61). would be easy to have without having any unfairness. Then he talks about the joy of building towns and then populating them. John Smith also infrequently mentions the Native Americans, but when he does he says that they are good people and that they helped them a lot when he and his people arrived by giving them corn if they didn’t have a steady source of food like from breeding cattle. Smith also makes references to ways of profiting from daily activities such as hunting and farming.
This is his way of persuading others to make a voyage to New England. For example, Smith says “For hunting also, the wood, lakes, and river afford not only chase sufficient for any delight that in that kind of toil or pleasure but such beasts to hunt that besides the delicacy of their bodies for food, and their skins are so rich as may well recompense thy daily labor with a captains pay.” (Smith 63). By persuading others to come to New England, it can be seen that Smith expects to profit from these new settlers. Smith also appears to be directing his writing towards certain financial individuals wanting to invest in the new colonies.
In “Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford begins by reminding people how harsh and difficult the trip to the New England was for the pilgrims. He writes about the condition of the men who arrived to the shore. He also mentions that in New England there was no one to welcome them, more over there was nothing to stay in, no houses and no inns. When Bradford mentions the Native Americans, he says that they greeted them with arrows. Bradford also attempts to persuade others to visit New England, with a religious approach. This attempt is made even though he does describe the difficulties in New England. In Bradford’s eyes, had not the Puritan Pilgrims been graced by God, then their long and demanding exploration, all would have been in vain. Year after year Bradford keeps sight of the signs from God meant to help the Pilgrims in Plymouth.
After years in New England, Bradford talks of how Canonicus, chief of the Narragansett’s sent them a challenge. Bradford says “That great people of the Narragansetts, in a braving manner, sent a messenger unto them with a bundle of arrows tied about with a great snakeskin, which their interpreters told them was a threatening and a challenge. Upon which the Governor, with the advice of others, sent them a round answer that if they had rather have war than peace, they might begin when they would; they had done them no wrong, neither did they fear them or should they find them unprovided.” (Bradford 79). One of the interpreters Bradford mentions was really an Indian, Squanto, who was friendly with them and helped them by being an interpreter and Bradford viewed him as a type of messenger from God. Then he goes onto compare the Pilgrim’s journey to the New World with the Israelites migration from Egypt. It seems that these religious references are used to persuade his audience to see the purity of the Pilgrim’s journey to Plymouth. Bradford also appears to be writing towards certain religious individuals who are thinking about or wanting to make a pilgrimage to New England or other colonies.
From my experience, John Smith sounds like these people I see in commercials today and how they try to lure you in to coming to their state or country from either pictures that they show and by saying it’s such a “great place.” Although it’s not exactly the same way Smith went about it, however, they try to lure you in so they can make money off of people just like Smith wanted to. Then what William Bradford writes about New England more or less reminds me of other commercials I see today that show kids in Africa, and how they need our help by either adopting them or donating money in order to let them live a normal life away from poverty and sickness much like the Plymouth pilgrims were living through when they arrived in New England.
In conclusion, the tones of these two writings, “A Description of New England” by John Smith and “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford, vary distinctly; both authors attempt to convince certain viewers to come to New England. Smith attempts to influence the financial advisors who wish to invest in New England, while Bradford attempts to persuade the religious individuals to make a pilgrimage to New England. Bradford wrote about the intricacies and actuality of New England, while Smith wrote about how breathtaking New England was. Smith also wrote a description of the new land in which he describes what an astounding world of immense food and pleasure awaited others. Whereas, William Bradford, gave a description of what really happened, of how the pilgrims really lived and how harsh it was from them. Also I can relate to how the authors try to get people to come to New England from what I’ve seen and heard in my life.
John Smith, “A Description of New England.”William Bradford, “Of Plymouth Plantation.”