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Women's Roles in Puritan Society

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Women in Puritan society were strictly confined to traditional roles within their family and community structures. They were solely relegated to serve their husband and their household. These circumstances were made apparent in the journal of John Winthrop as well as the letters between him and his wife. The statements made in John Winthrop's journal regarding Anne Hutchinson are descriptive of the restricted roles of women in the commonwealth. The way in which Margaret speaks to her husband is verification of the roles of women in the society.

The letters between John Winthrop and his wife Margaret are pure evidence of the restricted and submissive roles of women in the puritan society. The signature alone is obvious proof of the submissive behavior of wives to their husbands. She concludes most of the letters with "Thy faithful, and obedient wife" (32). Margaret also remarks in one of her letters, that she blushes "to hear herself commended" (29), as if this shouldn't be an ordinary and frequent practice. She then continues in this letter to apologize for being so long from her household affairs, and declares herself a bad housewife for it. It is hard to imagine that writing a two paragraph letter would hinder her work around the house, let alone make her a bad housewife. In a later letter, Margaret makes it seem as if it is unfit for her to write to her own husband, or to want any love from him when she says, "I must entreat thee to accept of a few lines from me, and not to impute it to any want of love, or neglect of my duty to thee, to whom I owe more than I shall ever be able to express" (32). She acts as if her husband is doing her a favor by writing to her and even being faithful to her. After reading all of the letters it becomes quite obvious that the wives in the Puritan society lived to serve their husbands, and were extremely obedient to everything they said. It's as if the wives were property.

Similar to the letters between John and Margaret Winthrop, John's journal provides extensive insight into the controlled and submissive lifestyles of women in the Puritan society. The best example's of this are the entries regarding Anne Hutchinson's investigation, trial, and conviction. They reveal a highly limited lifestyle, in which women could not be involved in harmless proceedings. Anne Hutchinson had been, "keeping two public lectures every week



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