Smith, woman, good wife, devout mother, and pious believer,

Smith, Bradford and Bradstreet formed part of the first
American settlements, this was, therefore, what strongly influenced, and molded
their personalities, and self-representation in their works.

John Smith, in the tradition of the Elizabethan
voyagers, illustrated the early days of the English colonization of America. It
can be seen his work General History of
Virgina as a story told by an adventurer who wanted to narrate his
experiences in the New World. Smith always referred to himself in the third
person as a strategy to give veracity to his accounts. Mixing fact and fiction,
he displayed himself as a hero, extolling his great deeds, achievements and
victories. For instance, in his book he is the only survivor of the bow-men
savages using his guide as his shield, and also, once he is captured, how he
proudly demands the presence of the King of Pamunkey to negotiate his freedom
exchanging it for a compass.

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Bradford like Smith, recounted his experience in the
New World. Bradford formed part of the Puritan community which crossed the
Atlantic in search of freedom to practice his religion. Unlike Smith, Bradford
is the “I” or first person narrator in his work Of Plymouth Plantation. He tells his history as a journey to the
promise land, assuming the role of a Messiah, since those who do not follow
him, do not follow God, and then God will punish them. For instance, the author
explain in the book how a young man which he describes as a profane, and
haughty person, eventually die in a desperate manner under the just hand of
God.

Bradstreet also wrote autobiographical pieces in
which she conveyed personal experience and feelings. She illustrated herself in
The Author to Her Book a woman writer
fighting for its own place in a patriarchal society. To do so, she used a
neutral and detached approach in her poem being genuinely modest but disclosing
a rebellious spirit. In her poems, she used conventional resources in which she
had to define herself as a humble woman, good wife, devout mother, and pious
believer, but it is easy to notice the internal tensions between her domestic
concern, and her duty to maintain her faith.

In short, it can be established a similitude between
Bradford and Bradstreet autobiographies because of the influence of religion in
their lives. Conversely, Smith portrayed himself as a conqueror, undertaking
the concept of manifest destiny.Edwards, Franklin and Wheatly used the binary
opposition of good and evil to give their particular approach to the main
issues of the 18th century.

Edwards, labelled as the last great puritan,
wanted in his sermons to convince the parishioners not to forget religion since
they were giving more importance to trifle things, and living as sinners. To do
so, he used the binary opposition between good and evil to illustrate what it was
going to happen if they continued leading a life as sinners. He compares the
sinner with a spider or loathsome insect that depend on the hand of God, which
hold the thread on which he is hanging. The imagery of the fire represents the
evil, the hell, and it is displayed in different ways such as brimstone,
furnace of wrath, etc. In conclusion, the fire represents the ending for a
sinner.

Unlike Edwards, Franklin advocated for the
reason, and a form of free-thinking Deism, for instance he spoke about
mistakes, which he metaphorically called “erratas”, instead of sins.
He in a plain-style wrote his Autobiography; a self-help book in which he
explained how to achieve moral perfection, and be socially successful through
the practice of virtues, basing on his own experience. According to Franklin,
the good behaviour is linked to thirteen secular virtues (temperance, silence,
etc.) that has to be attained.  Moreover,
he made a plan in which every mistake in attaining these virtues was a black
spot in a daily calendar. He compared his removing the black spots, which are
his failures in being virtuous, to a gardener’s pulling weeds.

On the other hand, in the poems by Wheatley we
can find how she subverted what is good and evil. Apparently, she displayed
gratitude to those who kidnapped her and turned her into a Christian, and also
she expressed admiration to those who claimed for the American independence,
but in a closer examination to her works, it can be seen how she used irony to
be very critical with that hypocrisy. Another example of this subversion is
that she depicted sin much worse than enslavement, but even so she showed her
disapproval to the slavers mindset that black people could not be turned into a
saved souls after death.

To sum up, the three authors illustrate the tensions about religious,
political and spiritual freedom of their time by using the contrast between
good and evil.