PHILLIS WHEATLEY 1
is considered the first African-American female to have her literaryworks published. Her original home is believed have been in WestAfrica. She was a victim of slavery and was taken away at the tenderage of seven years (Lewis, 2015). On getting to North America, shewas acquired by the Wheatley family who resided in Boston. It was inthis household that Phyllis Wheatley learned to read and write.Additionally, she received lessons across various subjects such astheology and ancient history. She also mastered numerous languagesthat included English, Greek and Latin (Lewis, 2015). This paper willanalyze four of the poems that were written by andindicate how she integrated the concept of religion in the text. Thepoems that will be used in this case include “To S.M. a YoungAfrican Painter, on Seeing his Works”, “To the University ofCambridge, in New England”, “On Being Brought from Africa toAmerica”, and extant “Letters” (Wheatley, 1773).
“To the University of Cambridge, in New England”
The authoraddresses the students at an institution that she believes would havedenied her the right to an education. She encourages the learners togain knowledge of the existing systems. Moreover, Phillis urges themto thank the Almighty since they owe everything to Him. This poemalso highlights the author’s firm belief in Christianity as shedeclares that God brought her from “the land of errors”. Shethanks God for her current knowledge of Christ. All these areindications of the author’s religious beliefs. Her spiritual valuesexceed the scientific arguments. She encourages the students to avoidsin (Wheatley, 1773). Moreover, the author uses images of Christ’ssacrifices for the sins of man to contrast the wonders of science(Wheatley & Mason, 1995). This piece of writing highlights thestrength of religion over race according to the author.
“To S.M. a Young African Painter, on Seeing his Works.”
Even though thispoem focuses on art, religion also plays a significant role inhighlighting the spiritual fulfillment among individuals (Wheatley,1773). The poem classifies the process of creativity as a type ofimmorality. Phillis discusses the relationship between the creationof art and the satisfaction derived from artistic success. In thiscase, the audience is made aware of the author`s attitude towards artas well as the desire for heaven. Moreover, the poem integrates thetheory of those who are longing for freedom on earth. PhillisWheatley acknowledges the impact of art on individuals and howreligion plays a significant role in ensuring that those who long forheaven get their wish (Wheatley, 1773).
“On Being Brought from Africa to England”
This is one ofthe works of that highlights the importance ofreligion in her life. She believed in the existence of a supremebeing. In the beginning of the literary piece, she credits “mercy”for her voyage as well as her transition into Christianity (Wheatley,1773). She reminds her audience of the existence of a supernaturalpower that controls her life directly. Despite the fact that she wasbrought from Africa as a result of slavery, she credits “mercy”for the successful maneuvers (Wheatley & Mason, 1995). In thepoem, the author proceeds to label Africa a “pagan” land. Shebelieves, that the Africans, who are considered to be “black asCain” can be purified by getting saved (Wheatley, 1773). Moreover,she acknowledges that the chances of being exposed to Christianitywere limited when she was in Africa. The religious beliefs of theauthor are highlighted in this case. She appreciates the opportunitythat she has been accorded despite the fact that it was slavery thatfacilitated her movement from Africa.
wrote several letters that were addressed to various individuals whohad positively impacted on her life. In most of the letters, shehighlighted the massive role played by Christianity in her life. Inone such letter addressed to John Thornton, she states that shederives happiness from the Bible. Moreover, she believes that theHoly Book is the primary source of wisdom and treasure in everyperson’s life. She is also guided by the Bible in the course of heractions. Within the same letter, it is evident that Phillis believesthat her sickness is a test of faith. This is evident when shedeclares that it is God’s will for her to be bedridden (Wheatley &Mason, 1995). Even after the death of her beloved mistresses, sheseeks God’s help as He never forsakes those who seek Himwholeheartedly. She believes that the death of Mrs. Wheatley and herown illness are as a result of God’s will. She uses the tale of herlate mistresses to encourage Thornton to fear God by adhering to hiscommandments (Wheatley & Mason, 1995).
Though most ofthe literature by African-Americans majorly focused on highlightingtheir plight at the hands of their white “owners”, PhillisWheatley provides a different analysis. Even though she was boughtinto slavery, she is thrilled with the opportunity it has given her.The concept of Christianity is extensively discussed in the poems toindicate that religion supersedes race according to .
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Lewis, J. J. (2015). ’s Poems. AboutEducation.Retrieved fromhttp://womenshistory.about.com/od/aframerwriters/a/wheatley_poems.htm
Wheatley, P. (1773). Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.Michigan: Proquest Company
Wheatley, P., & Mason, J. D. (1995). The poems of PhillisWheatley. Chapel Hill [u.a.: Univ. of North Carolina Press.
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