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Mary Rowlandson – Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration. American Literature I 10/11/2004 Cecilia H.C. Liu. Brief Biographical Background on Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711) .

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mary rowlandson narrative of the captivity and restoration

Mary Rowlandson – Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration

American Literature I


Cecilia H.C. Liu

brief biographical background on mary rowlandson c 1636 1711
Brief Biographical Background on Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711)
  • Mary Rowlandson was born circa 1637-1638 in England.  With her parents John and Joan White, she sailed for Salem in 1639.  Joseph Rowlandson became a minister in 1654 and two years later he and Mary were married. They had a child, Mary, who lived for three years; their other children were Joseph, b. 1661; Mary, b. 1665; Sarah, b. 1669. At the time of their capture, the children were 14, 10, and 6.
capture and redemption
Capture and Redemption
  • In 1675 Joseph Rowlandson. went to Boston to beg for help from the Massachusetts General Assembly, during which period Mary Rowlandson was captured. After her redemption, the couple lived in Boston and then moved 1677 to Wethersfield, Connecticut. Joseph Rowlandson died 24 November 1678 after preaching a powerful fast-day jeremiad.
disgrace in the family
Disgrace in the family
  • Mary Rowlandson remarried 6 Aug 1679 to Captain Samuel Talcott. He died in 1691; she lived until 1710. Disgrace later came to the family: her son Joseph got his brother-in-law drunk and sold him into servitude in Virginia.
mary rowlandson s travel
Mary Rowlandson’s Travel
  • While a prisoner, Mary Rowlandson traveled some 150 miles,  from Lancaster to Menamaset then north to Northfield and across the Connecticut river to meet with King Philip/Metacomet himself, sachem of the Wampanoags.  Next she traveled up into southwestern New Hampshire, south to Menamaset, and north to Mount Wachusett.
rowlandson s narrative
Rowlandson's narrative
  • According to Katherine Derounian-Stodola, "Introducing her work in all four 1682 editions was an anonymous preface to the reader, signed only 'per Amicum' (By a Friend), but almost certainly written by Increase Mather. In 1681, Mather had proposed to a group of Puritan ministers that they collect stories of 'special providences' concerning New England to be evaluated, sorted, and eventually anthologized. Quite probably Rowlandson's narrative was among the providential accounts he received, but owing to its length, local currency, and intrinsic worth, he may have suggested separate publication and agreed to help. . ."
captivity narrative
captivity narrative
  • Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan wife and mother, published only one book during her life. That book, however, not only became one of the era's best-sellers, but earned her an important place in the history of American literature. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, an account of her captivity among the Narragansett Indians during King Philip's War in the 1670s, is a frequently cited example of a captivity narrative, an important American literary genre used by James Fenimore Cooper, Ann Bleecker, John Williams, and James Seaver.
Because of Rowlandson's intimate relationship with her Indian captors, her book also is interesting for its treatment of cultural contact. Finally, in its use of autobiography, typology, and the jeremiad, Rowlandson's book helps us to understand the Puritan mind.
king philip s war
King Philip's War
  • A general Indian uprising in 1675-76 to resist continued expansion of the English colonies in New England. It was the bloodiest of the Indian wars in terms of relative casualties, and several tribes were virtually or totally eliminated. Six hundred colonists were killed, which included about one-fifth of all the men fit for military service.
  • Philip was the Christian name assigned to Metacomet (known as King Philip or Metacom), a war chief or sachem of the Wampanoag Indians. Massachusetts colonial settlers frequently referred to the Native chiefs as Kings.

A current paperback book cover

What different "appeals" to emotion do you find in these two covers? How do you explain the differences?

Cover of first edition, showing Mary shooting a musket


Here negotiations for her ransom began toward the end of April. On May 2, 1676, Mary Rowlandson was exchanged at Redemption Rock for a ransom of twenty English pounds.


When she returned to Lancaster, there was not one European to be seen or one house left standing.

study questions
Study Questions
  • Discuss the relationship between mourning and religious faith in Rowlandson’s Narrative. How does Rowlandson mourn her losses, and how does she integrate this mourning into a faith in God’s will and plan?
  • Discuss how Rowlandson integrates her characterization of the Indians as “barbarous creatures” with a respect for them as agents of God’s will.
  • Mary Rowlandson – Captive in 1675/76 (with some photos)
  • American Literature Survey I by Dr. Ron Tranquilla
  • Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711)
  • rowland.htm
  • colonial.htm
  • Who was Mary Rowlandson: