Cultural Differences: The Role Of Women In Colonial England

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Like many European societies, Britain’s North American colonies were highly patriarchal, dominated by men in a hierarchical system. Women certainly played a central role in colonial life as mothers and homemakers, but the extent of their control over their lives, families, and community depended largely on where they lived. Quakers, living in Pennsylvania, and Puritans, living in Plymouth, were persecuted by the state supported Anglican Church in England. Both groups sought freedom and salvation in the new colonies; however, similarities stopped there. While Puritanical gender relations and childrearing practices were defined by patriarchal relationships and deep concern for the continuation of their religion, Quaker communities focused on…show more content…
Puritan fathers used land to control their children economically. There was initially enough land so that families could pass their land down to their sons. However, fathers held legal ownership over the land until death, keeping their kids close, working the farm and taking care of them. The promise of land was a potent enough economic control kept children dependent upon their parents and kept them within the Puritan community. As land ran out, children's incentives to stay also ran out, and they left to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Puritanical doctrine on childhood was also used to create submissive children. From the time they were born, Puritan kids were considered sinners who needed to saved from bestial ways. Children managed to play games and make toys, but as a result of church teachings were not pampered and made to act less childish or "bestial" by wearing long robes, corsets, and wooden rods. They were taught to read in order to understand the bible and the colonies' laws. They were even shown pictures of dead people and hell to frighten them into following the Puritan teachings. In addition to using church scriptures to make their children fearful and obedient copies of themselves, they used economic control over their futures as well. On the other hand, Quakers did not attempt to raise conformist children and instead supported youthful independence. Like the Puritans, they had bountiful amounts of land to give their sons. However, unlike the Puritans daughters were given cash and gifts of equivalent value; however, parents bequeathed their land when they married. Quakers built their relationship with their children around love and affection. Just as the Quaker's New Testament God encouraged equitable gender relations, he also emphasized loving

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