American Literature-ENG 201-40

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Literary Analysis Essay 1

"I really enjoyed this piece of literature. "The Flesh and the Spirit", I fell was my best work because I like to analyze the good and bad in any given situation. The title itself reminds of the saying you can't serve to master. My preacher always states the "You can't be of the spirit and of the world." You either love one or hate the other. Anne Bradstreet really spoke to me in this poem."
The Flesh and the Spirit

Once it is understood that literature is not throwing words together in the hopes that they will someday become a story, it will be more appreciated. Literature is work carefully generated by authors that worked hard with at putting their material on paper. These authors not only look to bring a difference to their method of telling their story or poetry writing, but they seek to tell, on many occasions, their own experiences and values. As we continue to study literature we will maintain the intelligibility and enthusiasm of the author’s fight to succeed in a literary society. Let’s look at the eloquent work of one of Anne Bradstreet’s poems.

“The Flesh and the Spirit” is the conflict showing feelings and wants. That the Spirit and the Flesh are “Sisters” who are linked until death suggests that this poem be read as the internal struggle of the narrator. One sister dwells in the world with a materialistic attitude and the other stands for things of the flesh. One sister represents the world including pleasure, fame, wealth, and things of the flesh. This sister is materialistic and takes consolation in her worldly possessions. She also takes fulfillment in her earthly desires. The other sister represents the Spirit. She represents satisfaction in God. She stores her treasures in Heaven. Their relationship is a constant battle. The Spirit sister sees the flesh as her enemy. She is constantly at war with the flesh. This is a battle of good and evil. These sisters are one of God and the other of the world. Bradstreet gives the earth’s portrayal as dull with an unseen force: “Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold than eyes can see or hands can hold.” On her portrayal of the flesh, it is beyond being dull. She gives a description in (L.74). Also in (L.85-86) Bradstreet shows a city in which she someday wants to exist. She portrays the city as not being similar to Earth. The Spirit confesses that she has given into the kind words of her sister and let down her guard. She then states that the flesh will never overcome her faith in God. But they are still sisters. Even though Spirit wants to be free from the flesh, she cannot because they are sisters. She then says the only way to be free is if Spirit takes her fill of Heav'n and flesh takes the world. The only way to separate these will be in death. Rather than reconciling their differences and ending the dual, Spirit suggests that they will remain in “combat”:
Sisters we are, yea, twins we be,
Yet deadly feud ’twixt thee and me;
For from one father are we not,
Thou by old Adam was begot. (L.43-46)

Bradstreet’s “The Flesh and the Spirit” describes the internal, psychological struggle that existed because of their strict religious beliefs. The conflict between the sinful self and the redeemed self coincide with the conditions, according to Puritans, humans, who are wounded by the sin, must always be aware of their depraved status. In the poem she make obvious she can only win the war between the flesh and the spirit, by destroying her “Flesh.” Bradstreet understands that she can’t satisfy the world and her religious denomination. Having to master you will love one and hate the other, destroying the “Flesh” means getting rid of her ungodly attributes.

Works Cited

Bradstreet, Anne. “The Flesh and the Spirit.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed.Paul Lauter. Ed. Paul Lauter. 5th ed. Vol A . Boston: Coryell, 2006. 403-05.


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