Anne Bradstreet lived in a time when devotion in a wife to her husband was a social law. This poem, “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” is a loving tribute from Bradstreet to her husband. Certainly, in the early American, Puritan colonies, this work would have been seen as a wife’s duty as well as a lovely gesture. Today, however, it might well be seen as the babblings of a dependent wife. This was my reaction to the poem when I first read it. The attitudes of our country have changed drastically since the mid-1600s and devotion of a wife to her husband is now often seen as a sign of weakness.
After re-reading this poem, my attitude toward it began to change. At first, I saw the work as a clichéd poem from an oppressed woman. Now, however, I was not so sure. I don’t doubt that Bradstreet felt the sting of oppression throughout her life; she may have had genuine love for her husband. The strong words she used were a great indicator that her love was genuine. When she said, “If ever wife was happy in a man, compare with me, ye women, if you can,” she could possibly have been saying that she was happy in her marriage, unlike many of her peers.
My reasons for feeling, at first, that Bradstreet’s poem was largely a result of popular culture. It is now expected of wives to be more autonomous and slightly unattached to their husbands. In Bradstreet’s time, women were not even allowed to vote. Neither were they allowed to work or have important positions in society. Now, however, women can vote and run for “congresswoman,” With this positive change have also come negative effects, however. Women are encouraged to be better than men and things such as “reverse discrimination” happen. Women are now actively discriminating against men, whereas before, men had more of a passive, secret type of discrimination.
Love is one of the nicest emotions in life, not a “ball and chain.” Because Bradstreet loved her husband, I should not have written her off as weak. After taking a...