Literary Analysis of The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1143 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1143|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Table of contents

  1. Bradstreet's Unique Style That Reveals Woman's Role
  2. Unobtrusive Address to Readers
  3. Conclusion

In “The Prologue,” when Anne Bradstreet suddenly shifts her viewpoint from belittling herself in a way to demonstrate and agree with the standard thinking of women back in the day, we see the emphasis on highlighting the oppression and objectification of women in a Puritan male’s society. In this moment, Bradstreet reveals a concern with the female mistreatment and sexist view on women that calls forward a closer consideration of appreciating and considering a woman’s capabilities. This paper will attend to this issue by looking at the author’s use of poetic structure to highlight her capabilities, repetition to add emphasis to her plea for attention towards feminism, and symbolism with objects, like a pen, to frame concerns on the female gender to suggest that woman in a Puritan society were not expected to live up to a man’s capabilities or intellect. Specifically, Bradstreet’s incorporation of iambic pentameter, tone shift in the last three stanzas, symbolism, and repetition shows the emphasis the author is trying to portray on the ideologies that were expected to be bestowed on women at the time and ridicule the expectations of males in such society.

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Bradstreet's Unique Style That Reveals Woman's Role

When reading the beginning stanzas of “The Prologue,” the author’s meter and structure are something ideal to note. “To sing of wars, of captains, and of kings, Of cities founded, commonwealths begun…” showcases Bradstreet’s perfect usage of iambic pentameter and ABABCC rhyming form. Despite focusing on how on how her “wondering eyes and envious heart” yearned to imitate the works of the “Great Bartas”, readers can sense a tone of irony in the way that she so gracefully had perfect sentence structure but then begins to compare herself to a notorious poet, claiming that her writing technique could never be as close. The perfect iambic pentameter in contrast with her “wondering eyes and envious heart” really plays a forerun in how she’s clearly playing on her words in order to showcase irony because it is obvious that she is capable of doing such, but by implying this literary technique, Bradstreet is able to further her point. With her line’s being so orderly and regimented, Bradstreet is figuratively implying that despite being so “simple I according to my skill”, as a woman, she is very much aware of the skills used by the highly acknowledged male poets of the time. And by doing so, she is able to prove to readers that although she can achieve the greats, she will succumb to societal standards for now in order to highlight what women must go through on the daily. The literary technique utilized is her first step into introducing the ideology that women are just as capable of achieving the level of intellect of most men and just as her work implies, she is quite aware of her poetic skills.

Throughout the majority of the poem, Bradstreet conforms to the male expectancies of the stereotypes of women, even going as far to say that her “obscure lines shall not so dim” the “worth” of what male poets diligently write about. The author utilizes symbolism to compare that “from school-boy’s tongue no rhet’ric we expect, nor yet a sweet consort from broken strings” to emphasize that just like a young child would not be expected to recite sophisticated works, we should not expect a female writer to do the same. Here, she is acknowledging her inferiority as a writer, giving readers the idea that she is not knowledgeable or intellectual enough to even write about such topics. However, here we see she turns towards a different sense of direction. When speaking on how society might find her “obnoxious to each carping tongue”, she does so in order to suggest that people find her vulnerable for her capabilities as a female poet in a Puritan society. Bradstreet also utilizes symbolism when questioning “who says my hand a needle better fits”. By employing usage of symbolism in this stanza, she brings forth a different style in her words, and thus, a contrasting impression is brought forward to the meaning of her poem. The importance of the needle emphasizes her main argument on why a woman was prejudiced to household chores and not allowed on the same playing field as men. In fact, if women were to write just as proficient as a male, “it won’t advance-they’ll say it was stolen”. This stanza alone encompasses the author’s purpose in writing her poem, that females have been shunned off by the males of their society from their capabilities for too long, and had it been brought to light, it would be seen as a threat. By breaking her previous pattern of assimilating with the sexist views on women, Bradstreet questions and ridicules this ideology and creates an even bigger impact on her argument, that women are just as capable as being academic.

Unobtrusive Address to Readers

When finalizing her poem and clearly expressing her opposing thoughts, Bradstreet sends a friendly reminder to readers and especially to her direct audience of the males in her Puritan society- to “let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are” through usage of repetition. The slight repetition in Greeks and the w’s in women help to emphasize and almost plead her concluding points yet again- to emphasis her idea on the sole fact that women should be allowed to do as they please without a man’s judgement, concern, or comparison. When reading Bradstreet’s line, the sentence leaves an impact on readers in the way that it conveys a slight repetitive text and smooth rhythm. The simple complexity of this writing technique allows for its message on feminism to be emphasized even more. Bradstreet does this in order to lay out the very simple request females ask for and for society to consider her feministic points, that women should not be superior to men but rather, be on the same level of respect and importance. Just like people “let Greeks be Greeks,” all women ask for is acknowledgment for their skills and competence.

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Clearly, Anne Bradstreet wrote “The Prologue” in order to emphasize and ridicule the Puritan belief that women should be objectified to the kitchen or rejected of their capabilities as it seen as a threat to society. Through usage of specific poetic structure to assert her writing knowledge despite her ironic language, sympathetic style to ridicule the stereotypes placed on women, symbolism to accentuate the way women are constantly being undermined in society, and repletion to clearly highlight her appeal for attention towards feminism, Bradstreet successfully professes her feministic philosophy against the common Puritan theory. The author brought forth the idea that women are qualified just like men and asks society to shift attention towards what women have to offer as well. Bradstreet does the unthinkable during her time as a female poet and challenges her male counterparts with her highly advanced skills as both a writer and as a woman.   

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Literary Analysis Of The Prologue By Anne Bradstreet. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Literary Analysis Of The Prologue By Anne Bradstreet.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Literary Analysis Of The Prologue By Anne Bradstreet. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Literary Analysis Of The Prologue By Anne Bradstreet [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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