A review of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative

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Mary Rowlandson’s anecdote is credited for promoting the rise in captivity narratives. In this narrative, Rowlandson’s explains her experience as a captive. Apart from the attention it has received as a captivity narrative, it has also received special attention from some who view it from a spiritual (faith) perspective. This paper analyzes this narrative from a faith narrative perspective and tries to see if this changes the initial meaning from its view as a captivity narrative.

Several themes stand out in this narrative one of them being faith in God. Going by this theme, if one is to view this work by Mary Rowlandson as a reaffirmation of faith in God, instead of  a captivity narrative, one gets a different message and the meaning of this narrative changes. Rowlandson is a Christian, though she was held captive. From a captivity narrative view, this shows that anyone can be captured and no one is special but viewing this from a faith narrative perspective proves different. Mary explains how though a captive, she receives special favor from the Lord through his protective powers. She explains of how the Lord protects her from distress, sexual abuse, and death (Rowlandson). Viewing it from this perspective only reaffirms the faith in God.

In the narrative, Rowlandson also attributes to the redemptive power of God. She explains how she is finally freed which in captivity narrative. As a faith narrative, it can be viewed differently especially based on the author’s description and opinion of the situation. Mary likens how she is saved from captivity to the biblical account of Daniel being saved from a den of lions (Downing 254). This comparison portrays God as a redeemer and is supported further by Mary’s conclusions that humans are weak and that they cannot do anything on their own but can only rely on the Lord. She further explains that unlike human beings the Lord is omnipotent and can do whatever seems good to him (Downing 256).

Throughout the narrative, Mary refers to various verses from the Bible that strengthened and comforted her (Downing 255). She explains that she is a Christian and it is evident she had a good understanding of the Bible. The thing that stands out is how she constantly credited God for guiding her to the specific Bible verse that she needs to strengthen and comfort her. Before referring to a scripture, Rowlandson constantly explains that the Lord brought her some scriptures. Her view and what is portrayed by this is how the Lord operates through the scripture.

A faith narrative and a captivity narrative are different but compatible. This is evident from Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. One can analyze this narrative as a captivity narrative or as a faith narrative. It all depends on how one views it. However, the two views of the narrative do not share the same message and meaning. The two differ but for each, there is enough ground to support its message and meaning.

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  1. Downing, David. “Streams of Scripture Comfort”: Mary Rowlandson’s Typological Use of the Bible.” Early American Literature 15.3 (1980): 252-259.
  2. Rowlandson, Mary White, et al. The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson: First Printed in 1682 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England. New Reprinted in Fac-simile; Whereunto are Annexed a Map of Her Removes, Biographical & Historical Notes, and the Last Sermon of Her Husband, Rev. Joseph Rowlandson. J. Wilson and son, 1903.
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