- Wife and mother
- Captive of Narragansett Indians
- 1637: born, probably in England
- 1656: marries Congregationalist minister Joseph Rowlandson
- 1676: kidnapped by Narragansetts from her home in Lancaster, Massachusetts,
and held for 11 weeks
- 1682: Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Issues and themes
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
The Sovereignty & Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness
of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration
of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
- Publication: 1682
- This book went through four editions the year it was published and
was one of the best-sellers of the era. How do you explain its popularity?
Do you see any irony in this popularity?
- How does Rowlandson depict the Native Americans? What has shaped her
- Analyze Rowlandson's faith. How does it change over the course of her
narrative? How do you explain these changes?
- Like The Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de
Vaca, this book is a captivity narrative. Referring to both works,
describe the major features and themes of this genre.
- Like the works of William Bradford, John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet,
and others, Rowlandson's book reveals a great deal about the Puritan mind.
Referring to at least two of these works, characterize Puritan literature
- What does Rowlandson mean when she refers to "providence"?
: "We had six stout dogs belonging to our garrison, but none of them
would stir, though another time, if any Indian had come to the door, they
were ready to fly upon him and tear him down. The Lord hereby would make
us the more acknowledge His hand, and to see that our help is always in
- Near the end of her book, Rowlandson quotes David: "It is good
for me that I have been afflicted" (156). Why does she feel thankful?
What does such a sentiment reveal about the Puritan mind?
- Bleecker, Ann. The History of Maria Kittle. 1797.
- "Mary Rowlandson." Norton Anthology of American Literature.
Shorter Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. 139-140.
- Rowlandson, Mary. The Sovereignty & Goodness of God, Together
with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the
Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Norton Anthology
of American Literature. Shorter Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton,
- Seaver, James E. Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison.
- Williams, John. The Redeemed Captive, Returning to Zion. 1707.
© Mark Canada, 1997
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