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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Thomas Morton - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: What strategies does Morton use to satirize the Puritans in New English Canaan? How do the names he gives to the various characters in his tale undermine Puritan values and structures of authority? What is the significance of the title of his book?

  2. Context: How does Morton's prose compare to Bradford's "plain style"? Bradford draws most of his metaphors and allusions from the Bible; what sources does Morton draw upon? What kind of identity is Morton trying to construct for himself through his literary style?

  3. Exploration: Morton's portrait of Native Americans is quite different from the accounts offered by most other seventeenth-century American writers. What qualities does he ascribe to the Indians? How does his description of Native American culture compare to his description of Puritan culture? What reasons might Morton have had to portray the Indians so positively? Why do you think Morton's relationship to Native Americans was so threatening to the Puritans at Plymouth Plantation?

  4. Exploration: What genre do you think New English Canaan falls into? Is it a history, a satire, a travel narrative, a promotional brochure, or some combination thereof?

  5. Exploration: Read "The May-Pole of Merry Mount," Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1836 story about the conflict between Morton and the Puritans. How does Hawthorne portray the revelers? How does he portray the Puritans who confront them? With which group do his sympathies seem to lie? Why do you think Hawthorne chose this particular incident as the subject for his story?

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