The Day of Doom,' by Michael Wigglesworth, viewed against its seventeenth-century background



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Michael Wigglesworth wrote "The Day of Doom" between. 1655 and 1662 when the Puritan spirit of adherence to Biblical authority was felt in government, education, logic, art, and science. The author reflects his age in his writing as he not only chooses the Biblical subject of the Last Judgment but also approaches it in a spirit of unquestioning utilization and acceptance of the details of his source material. The tone of his work is seen as darker than that of his source, however, since he selects primarily those details which emphasize the status of the doomed men and gives only brief mention to those which reflect the rejoicing of the chosen, according to the theological concept of predestination. The instructional intent of his work, which is again characteristic of his historical period, is revealed in his mnemonic, logical presentation from the opening scene of the arrival of the Judge to the closing picture of the casting of the chained victims into hell as the Renate ascend to Heaven. The poet's compliance with the seventeenth-century understanding of poetry as the "handmaiden of theology" is apparent in his emphasis on Scriptural accuracy beyond that of poetic beauty.