Chapter 1: Early American Literature to 1700
and Puritanism

Michael Wigglesworth

Paul P. Reuben
  October 13, 2016

Outside Link: | About MW and his Poetry | Heath Anthology Introduction |

Page Links: | Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Chap 1 - Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page |

A minister, Wigglesworth is today remembered for two works The Day of Doom (1662) and God's Controversy with New England (written in 1662 but published more than two hundred years later). The first book is known as the first American bestseller. It contains an expression of the basic Puritan beliefs described earlier in the Introduction to this chapter.

Primary Works

The Day of Doom, 1662; Meat Out of the Eater, 1670, 1717; Riddles Unriddled, or, Christian Paradoxes, 1689; "God's Controversy with New England," 1662, 1873; The Diary of Michael Wigglesworth, 1653-1657, ed. Edmund S. Morgan, 1970; The Poems of Michael Wigglesworth, ed. Ronald A. Bosco, 1989.

Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Boone, Joseph A. and Michael Cadden. eds. Engendering Men: The Question of Male Feminist Criticism. NY: Routledge, 1990.

Elliott, Emory. ed. American Colonial Writers 1606-1734. Detroit: Gale, 1984.

White, Peter. ed. Puritan Poets and Poetics: Seventeenth-Century American Poetry in Theory and Practice. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1985.

Study Questions

1. Why does Wigglesworth stick so close to the Bible, in some cases offering virtual paraphrases of his biblical sources?

2. What does "The Day of Doom" suggest about how texts were used in Puritan culture?

3. In what ways does the poem link the private framework of personal salvation with the communal mission of the Puritans in New England?

4. How does the poem--in both form and content--reflect Wigglesworth's conception of audience?

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page:

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 1: Michael Wigglesworth." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. WWW URL: (provide page date or date of your login).

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