Anne Bradstreet is often praised as being one of the first feminist voices in colonial America which, perhaps, is misleading. Her poetry adhered to the standard themes and styles of her male contemporaries, glorifying male-dominated society and never questioning the authority of the men that controlled her life both personally and spiritually. She was content to be the property of her father, husband, and Puritan society as a whole. However, because she worked within the confines of the Puritan era's gender roles and literary techniques, Anne Bradstreet was able to shed light on the oft overlooked existence of women within the society.
By the time Anne Bradstreet was born in the early 1600s, concrete gender roles, enforced by government
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Though it was common for wealthy women to receive an education, using that education for anything more than teaching their children or memorizing the Bible was considered an act of dissent. Thus, when Bradstreet's poetry was first published it was accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the works were, "the fruit but of some few hours, curtailed from her sleep and other refreshments" (Cowell 187). Because her authorship might have been considered a play for power in the patriarchal Puritan society, such a disclaimer was necessary; it reasoned that, while she had indeed written poetry, her life was so dominated by caring for her family and maintaining her domestic duties that in order to find time for writing she had to give up sleep and leisure activities. Bradstreet's ambition might be considered positive today, but in Puritan society a woman with ambition was to be feared, especially one with such obvious talent and intelligence.
Bradstreet was able to craft poetry that followed the strict poetic structure common at the time; she utilized iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets to give her poetry the style and validity necessary to be accepted by her contemporary audience. However, within these boundaries, she was able to develop a unique voice writing not only about her love of God, but her love of her parents, husband, and children. Such personal topics were rarely seen in poetry at the time; instead, most Puritan literature