Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade July 2001

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William Bradford, leader of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, sailed on the Mayflower to "establish a settlement where they could maintain a church of "˜ancient purity' freed from European entanglements" (245). Clearly, he journeyed to New England for spiritual reasons. His group's initial communal endeavor failed, but the community thrived after each family was given its own parcel of land. Illustrating his idea of how materialism and spirituality blends together, he believed God approved of their final capitalistic endeavor; hence, God assists human beings' pursuit of material goods. Additionally, his idea that God sent Squanto to teach them farming and fishing skills also shows God's involvement in the acquisition of material goods. However, he eventually detected a downside to materialism when he noticed a decline pattern, concluding that prosperity made them fall apart (258).

Instead of reflecting the glory of gathering wealth, Anne Bradstreet's poems reveal the splendor of spirituality.

Deeply immersed in spirituality, her poetry addresses many issues, including materialism, from a spiritual viewpoint. In one poem, she seems resigned to the necessity of materialism, yet another poem reveals her concern about the excesses of materialism. In "Flesh and Spirit," she explores the problem of being a Christian, yet having to deal with labors of this life on earth. With some resignation, she says that the inherent nature of living on earth is to remain, at least in part, of the "Flesh" (302). Presumably responding to unrestrained materialism, she attempts to persuade others to reject the relentless pursuit of superfluous temporal material goods and to embrace the assiduous quest of profound, eternal spirituality. Addressing this issue in "Contemplations," she argues that real wealth is not of this earth, but beyond it: "Here's neither honour, wealth, nor safety; / Only above is found all with security" (302). Additionally, she...