Characteristics of Puritan
Use with Puritan Characteristics
Chart worksheet.
Adapted from Vancover Island West School District Powerpoint
Greenville Public Schools, Greenville, SC
Characteristics of the Literature
 Strenuous and Serious
– because life was an unrelenting moral struggle
 Serious and Sober
– Did not want to show light-mindedness or worldliness'.
 Rational and Orderly
– because God’s creation was logical and harmonious, all
verbal representation should exhibit the same traits
 Realistic
– Attempted in writing to present life exactly as they saw
 Plain Style
– Very distinct and orderly
– Used scriptural analogies
– Used incidents from daily life and allusions
from the Bible
 Primary Dramatic Element was the struggle
between Christ and Satan
– Puritans believed themselves to be God’s
predestined champions.
How the power worked
 Ministers had “unofficial” authority, but profound
 Only male members of the church could vote.
 Outsiders were not welcome – if they wanted to
stay they had to convert to Puritanism
 Puritans were very nosy, always checking to be
sure their neighbors were being “good” Puritans
7 tenets of 17th Century Puritanism
These go on the worksheet
Absolute Sovereignty of God: God rules all things.
Predestination: everything has been decided by God
Providence: God directly intervenes in this world
Natural Depravity: Since Adam’s fall, all people are born
in sin and deserve damnation
Doctrine of the Elect: Through God’s mercy a few are
saved by God’s grace alone, not by own efforts.
Evil is Within: Man needs to reform himself, not
God is revealed in the Bible
Other Puritan Beliefs
 God is everywhere and in everything
 They came to the New World to purify the
church from within
 They were on a divine mission; they were
the “city upon the hill”—articulated by
John Winthrop in his sermon called Abella
Covenant in 1630
 " ... for we must consider that we shall be as
a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are
upon us; ..."
 Were not somber or sad
 Wore colored clothes.
 Had games like horse racing
and ninepin bowling
 Had celebrations, partook of “strong
 Not opposed to pleasure but saw its
regulation as part of a well-ordered society
 Emphasis on moral behavior
 Danger of wilderness and nature
 Looked UP to God, not OUT in the world
 Faith was their rock. Human intellect was
 Believed a Spartan (simple) existence led
them closer to God
 Denied free will (because they
believed in predestination)
 Promoted education and reading
 Must be able to read in order to read the
 Against anything the Bible is against,
technology, democracy, pride, sleeping
during sermons, divorce
 Created first college, first bookstore, first
Now what
 Take all this information, especially the
“tenets” and use it to complete the
worksheet “Puritan Characteristics.” Use
copies of both texts to help you find your
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