What was the intention of the colonial Puritans? Was it only in an effort to avoid persecution that they fled England, or did they want to build a society on their own ideologies and beliefs? Did it work? How were they able to maintain social cohesion and what was the role of the individual? The Holy Bible was the text that provided Puritans with spiritual, moral, social, and legal guidelines. Their theocracy was based on the exegesis of the clergy. It was the Puritan’s devout belief that assured social cohesion and compliance by the individual. It was also the threat of punishment that maintained the cohesion. The Puritans believed that it was their responsibility not only to monitor their behavior but also to rid their society of any evil influences. This responsibility required citizens to be aware of their neighbor’s actions and attitudes. Within the Puritan belief system existed the premise that Earth was a battleground for good and evil and; therefore, anything that existed was on one side or the other. It was especially true in the New World.
Puritan literature was often written in a biblical style. The advent of the printing press and King James’ newly translated Bible made the book the most well known text in Renaissance England. The Bible had a dramatic effect on literacy rates, and its poetic style and didactic tone are echoed throughout the Puritan’s writings. The earlier writings in particular were dramatically influenced by the struggle to survive. The forest, for example, was consistently used as a metaphoric and symbolic device to depict the darkness of nature, human or otherwise. The inclusion of the natural surroundings into the Puritan rhetoric only strengthened the belief in, and obedience to, Puritan theocratic law. The culmination of the Puritan practice in the Salem Witch Trials created a stark reality that resonated with many individuals’ suspicions of a government with unquestionable authority.