John Rolfe, an English colonist of Jamestown, Virginia sailed to Jamestown in 1609. Rolfe was on an expedition led by Captain Christopher Newport to transport colonists. Rolfe and fellow shipmates encountered many obstacles. An obstacle they come across were the Native Americans. Posing no threat, the Native Americans paid little consideration to the English but this thought was not long lived. “The English considered themselves a superior people” (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, Stoff 34) because they believed in only one God but the Native Americans believed in many.
As a result there was conflict. Rolfe played a tremendous role in establishing the little peace that the English and Native Americans had. That role was marrying Pocahontas, daughter of Pamunkeys Chief, Powhatan. Due to the marriage Rolfe tries to justify his marriage to Pocahontas, to Governor, Sir Thomas Dale. In the letter Rolfe states several reasons for the marriage, for the good of the colony, religion, and possibly love.
Rolfe first states “at the dreadfull day of judgement to condemne me herein, if my chiefest intent and minde, in the undertaking of so mightie a matter, no way led with the unbridled desire of carnall affection: but for the good of the plantation (Rolfe 1)”. He is saying that his marriage with Pocahontas was not made for the purposes for self gratitude but for the good of the colony, even though he was saying that he could not control his affections. His marriage with Pocahontas did affect the colony.
The English and the Native Americans had peace for eight years. This peace was important for the English because they were still trying to establish a stable colony and with many men falling ill the English could not afford to go to war with the Native Americans. Another reason that the marriage was able to be successful was because Powhatan knew that if he can get the English to unite with the Native Americans they would be a very powerful in a sense that if the English joined, their weapons would also follow. Religion played an enormous role in the English way of life.
This was the reason there was conflict between the English and the Native Americans. They had different religions thus different ways of living. The English found that the Native Americans way of living barbaric and ironically the Native Americans found that the English way of living barbaric. When two cultures meet and do not understand one another, misconceptions occur. When Rolfe saw Pocahontas he thinks of “an unbelieving creature” (Rolfe 1), “one whose education hath bin rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed, and so discrepant in all nutritive from my self” (Rolfe 2).
Rolfe sees it this way because that is what he was raised up to see. Therefore he believes that he must save her and pass on his knowledge of Christianity. Rolfe states “I have daily, hourely, yea and in my sleepe indured, even awaking mee to astonishment, taxing mee with remisnesse, and carelesnesse, refusing and neglecting to performe the crying: why dost not thou in devour to make her a Christian? ” (Rolfe 2). This thought harasses Rolfe, as a Christian he believes that he cannot leave a helpless person.
That he must teach her the way of Christianity. This quote shows how deeply it disturbs him because he even thinks about her in his sleep. He asked himself “What should I doe? Shall I be of so untoward a disposition, as to refuse to leade the blind into the right way” (Rolfe 2). This is so troublesome for Rolfe because he believes that if he does not do this he will not go to heaven “for my owne salvation” (Rolfe 1). Rolfe’s statements in the letter about Pocahontas are a little contradicting.
He first states “(so farre forth as mans weakenesse may permit) with the unbridled desire of carnall affection” (Rolfe 1). He says that because his weaknesses of being a man, he cannot control affections toward Pocahontas and at the same time when he is describing his feelings for her the way he describes her are so unpleasant . This following statement Rolfe uses specific words such as intangled and enthralled to disguise his feelings for Pocahontas. So intangled, and enthralled in so intricate a laborinth” (Rolfe 1).
He actually loves her but he disguises it because he does not want Sir Thomas Dale to think dire of him. In colonial times a mans reputation means a great deal to him and his family. For the reason that it gives them social status and can give them advantages in certain situations, such as politics and businesses. John Rolfe had his reasons for marrying Pocahontas and one can only try to interpret what those reasons were.
In his letter he talks about Pocahontas with little respect and at the same time he is praising her. It seems that Rolfe is worried about his appearance to fellow colonist because the way he describes the flaws of Pocahontas are very detailed and the way his feelings were described, are very concealing. Rolfe seems to justify his reasons to Pocahontas rather well with the main points of, for the good of the colony, religion, and love.