Thomas Mortan’s New English Canaan is an American satire on the Puritan religion, most notably, of the Separatists. It reads as a historical account of life in the New England Ma-re Mount, in which Mortan argues for the colonization of the land, inhabited by friendly ‘Indians,’ and the dispersing of Separatists. In Giovanni da Verrazzano’s Voyage he spends a lot of time focusing on the natives of the land, and detailing clothing, habits, and appearance to the reader (His Majesty, Frances I, King of France).
Mortan’s narrative offers the reader a sense of engagement; as if they’re truly seeing New England through the author’s eyes. This is similar to Verrazzano’s narrative, but his is less humorous and more scientific (although the author was not a scientist). This is shown mostly in Verrazzano’s tendency toward terseness (e.g. his description of natives and the land gives the viewer just enough ‘color’ to picture these things, but not enough adjectives to give details to them. For instance, he describes the trees as being sparse, of different types, sparse, and vine covered). The details that Verrazzano does include paint a picture, but a picture of nouns only. Contrary to Verrazzano’s narrative, Mortan gives the reader a very different picture of New England. Mortan spends some time focused on images of natives and of what the land looks like (similar to Verrazzano), however, much more of the narrative is focused on political points and counterpoints. Thus, the true difference between the two narratives is a focus on politics vs. geography with a common thread of ethnography between them.
Mortan’s main focus is on the Plymouth colonists as well as describing the native ‘Indians’. He spends much of his time deriding and ridiculing them in a sarcastic and satirical tone. This satire is something that is missing from Verrazzano’s narrative, which focuses itself on describing the voyage and inhabitants to the King, which makes the narrative read more like a report and less like a narrative. The lack of humor in Verrazzano’s narrative is something else that is in striking contrast between the two pieces of literature. This, conversely, leads to a common thread between the narratives: their religious convictions. Verrazzano and Mortan both adhere to their political viewpoints (Verrazzano mentions that one of his first priorities is to find out the native’s faith, and Mortan’s focus on the Puritans compared to his acceptance of the natives faith in hospitality to strangers and their respect toward elders).
Each author’s intent walks a fine line between commonality and differences. Verrazzano’s narrative was a letter to his king while Mortan’s narrative was social commentary (a commentary that landed him in hot water with the Puritans). Both authors wished to express a need of recording their life and the lives of those around them. In this regard, both men could be considered sociologists. Their study (for both of these narratives could be considered as such) of humanity is the thing that is the strongest link between them. They focus on actions and reactions, on religion, and of everyday life and mores within their immediate communities.