One World, One Land, Two Stories

Essay by dmikHigh School, 11th grade March 2006

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Two sixteenth century writers, John Smith and William Bradford, write about their experiences in North America in The General History (John Smith) and in Of Plymouth Plantation (William Bradford). Facing many struggles, both authors experience hardship physically and introspectively. Along with environmental and personal struggles came social struggles with the Indians. Landing on the same continent, William Bradford and John Smith give similar accounts of the new world while having completely different motives and styles.

Having had great zeal for God since his youth, William Bradford explains the history of the settlement with a constant confidence that God's sovereignty is controlling every event; in contrast, John Smith is motivated to write an alluring story that is not embellished to bring honest, diligent, adventure seeking peoples to America. Adding shocking elements to his writing, John Smith shows that "three hundred bowmen, conducted by King of Pamaunkee" are not things that are omitted to make the new world seem like a better place (18).

Rather than showing a perfect land, John Smith shows a new opportunity to make it a better place than their current or previous home. William Bradford made application to his knowledge in Scriptures by telling the reader that "it is recorded in Scripture as a mercy to the Apostle ... that the barbarians ... were readier to fill their sides full of arrows" (26). Writing in a style that is most befitting, William Bradford is God-centered in his prose to emphasize and remind the Puritan settlers that it is a "divine mission" from God to live in America for the purpose of evangelism to the Indians. The different motives of the two authors create a great variation in the style of their writing.

Both authors experience hardships from the environment, but write about such topics...