John Smith and William Bradford Essay
John Smith and William Bradford are both explorers that came to the New World in hopes of a better life. There are many comparisons and contrasts to be made between the two. You can elict from their writing styles that in both writers’ works, their purpose is to inform and persuade. Both of their stories began the same, entering the New World as callow foreigners trying to start a colony while fighting off starvation, disease, and Native American (or ”savages” as John Smith calls them) attacks. However, John Smith’s target audience was current English settlers, trying to persuade them to come and join him in the New World.
While, William Bradford’s audience was the future generation, making sure that they don’t make the same mistakes that he did in his voyage. William Bradford wrote a diary about his actual experiences in Colonial America from the ships to his first steps on land, writing a diary discussing the hardships he faced on his voyage. Bradford said, “But that which was most sad and lamentable was, that in two or three months’ time half of their company died…” explaining how everyone who boarded the ship did not make it off due to disease, hunger, and natural disasters.
When he finally reaches land, he emphasizes how religious his company is when he states,” They fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them…” although instead of rejoicing with them Bradford stands in awe and looks at the condition his people are in as they spew religious drivel from their lips, not yet realizing the state they are in. He even compares them to the Ancient Hebrews, who wandered in the desert after fleeing Egypt before reaching the Promised Land.
While reading you get the impression that William and his companions expected more when they arrived when he says, “They had no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses or much less towns…” On his first encounter with the Native Americans, Bradford views them as almost interlopers on his land but he holds a certain respect for the Indians and is eventually able to communicate with them and help them out with whatever they need as he saw they were willing to do the same for him and the Pilgrims when they noticed the Pilgrims not interested in hurting them or stealing what they had.
Unlike William Bradford, John Smith was a famous explorer known for finding and discovering what came to be Jamestown, Virginia. One major difference in their struggles in the New World was that John Smith and his men were attacked by Indians while on an expedition on the Chickahominy River and Captain John Smith was taken prisoner.
Although he was a great leader in helping ammeliorate his country’s colony, “who, by his own example, good words, and fair promises, set some to mow, others to bind thatch, some to build houses” This can be misread as him being bossy and dictator like but then it goes on to say how he “himself always bearing the greatest task for his own share” showing that he would never ask more of another than what he could do himself. An admirable quality in a leader.
John Smith, as I stated before, was captured and taken prisoner by the Indians implying that he never really knew how to handle situations with them. This is further explained when he proceeds to call them “savages” or “barbarians” in the story. When he is captured, instead of freaking out he carries himself with great aplomb throughout the whole experience with the Indians he cleverly evades every life threatening situation.
It is very clear that he was well loved in his home country as “When the news came to Jamestown, much was their sorrow for his loss…” this Is mostly due to the fact that he was sent to the New World voluntarily unlike Bradford who had to leave due to religious persecution. However, in both stories both men overcome their obstacles and with the help of the Native Americans proceed to grow and make names for themselves as they recount their experiences to encourage and inform anyone who wants to try and come to the New World in hopes of making a life for themselves.