Of Plymouth Plantation Themes

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Of Plymouth Plantation Themes


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Activity Overview

Themes come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify key themes in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation and support their choices with details from the text.

Of Plymouth Plantation Themes and Ideas to Discuss

The Importance of Faith

An important theme in Of Plymouth Plantation is the importance of faith. William Bradford and the other Puritans were firm believers in Providence, or the hand of God guiding all things. When a particularly nasty shipman was knocked overboard in a storm on their Mayflower voyage, Bradford wrote that it was because of God’s will. The Pilgrims’ faith is always at the center of Bradford’s writing, and unlike some of his counterparts who were writing at the time, he credited all of the colony’s successes to the strength God gave the Pilgrims in their endeavors, rather than himself.

The Strength of A United Community

Another important theme raised in Of Plymouth Plantation is the strength of a united community. Bradford writes about the first winter, with all of the diseases and starvation that afflicted many of the Pilgrims. He mentions six or seven “sound persons” who did everything for the ill and infirm. He says they did all of it “willingly and cheerfully without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren...” This is the sense of a united community that Bradford highlights throughout his narrative, a community that was united not only in turmoil, but in their faith, and as a result, they survived.


An additional important theme in Of Plymouth Plantation is perseverance. Despite the first harsh winter, the many skirmishes with the Native American tribes (especially the Pequot), the diseases, and the struggles of building something from nothing in a New World far removed from Europe, the Pilgrims survived and began to flourish. This is due to their resolve to persevere in spite of the obstacles they encountered. Part of this is also due to the fact that they knew there was no place for them in England, or in Holland anymore. With nowhere else to go, and wishing to remain separate from the settlement in Jamestown, the Pilgrims’ perseverance helps them to survive and still keep their faith.

The Rewards of Hard Work

A final important theme found in Of Plymouth Plantation is the rewards of hard work. Because of the Pilgrims’ perseverance, Bradford writes about the many rewards: they establish a peace treaty with the Nauset tribes, including Squanto and Massasoit, who provide essential aid and important commodities to the settlers; the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which increases the number of settlers and supplies; Harvard University is founded; the New England Confederation is formed; the settlers are free to practice their religion as they wish, even to the exclusion of others. All of these things come as a result of the settlers’ hard work, perseverance, and common faith in God.

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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Of Plymouth Plantation. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Of Plymouth Plantation you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme


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