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Historical Context in To My Dear and Loving Husband
Historical Context Examples in To My Dear and Loving Husband:
Text of the Poem
"doth..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
“Doth” is an archaic form of the word “does.” The word features prominently in Elizabethan literature, and although Bradstreet is writing after the reign of Queen Elizabeth, she was well known for her use of Elizabethan traditions in her writings, even after moving to the American colonies.
"the East..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
The “East” is a geographical term used to refer to the parts of Asia that lie to the east of Europe, such as, China, India, Syria, Asia Minor, etc. As “the East” encompasses a vast range of land and countries, the metaphor works on a literal level: “the East” literally can hold more riches because it refers to a larger area. However, during Bradstreet’s time, the world outside of Europe was just becoming accessible to Europeans, and Europeans saw Asia as a place of incredible wealth that colonizers saw as theirs for the taking.
"more than whole Mines of gold ..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
As a puritan herself, Anne Bradstreet’s poetry features many puritan elements, and “To My Dear and Loving Husband” is no exception. In puritan theology, the belief was that one should never prize material goods above God’s love or the love of one’s partner. This line thus echoes that puritan sentiment.
"thy..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
The possessive pronoun “thy” means “of or belonging to thee.” The speaker is addressing her husband here, suggesting that she values his love for her “more than whole Mines of gold.” Note the capitalization of “Mines.” Bradstreet may have capitalized the word to indicate the amount of riches in the mines, since during Bradstreet’s time, rules regarding capitalization were not as definitive as they are today.
"thee..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
While the word “thee” may seem formal to modern readers at first glance; however, in Bradstreet’s time, the word actually suggested intimacy and closeness. The speaker’s use of the word thus further underscores the deeper connection that the speaker has with her husband.