John Gatta's American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary PDF

By John Gatta

This article explores a striking if not likely undercurrent of curiosity in Mary as legendary Madonna, that has continued in American existence and letters from quite early within the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This imaginitive involvement with the Divine lady - verging now and then on devotional homage - is principally fascinating as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the point of interest of this research: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harold Frederic, Henry Adams, and T.S. Eliot. the writer argues that flirtation with the Marian cultus provided Protestant writers symbolic repayment for what should be culturally clinically determined as a deficiency of psychic feminity, or "anima" in the USA. He argues that the literary configurations of the legendary Madonna convey a subsurface cultural resistance to the existing rationalism and pragmatism of the yank brain in an age of entrepreneurial conquest.

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Extra info for American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary Culture

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Here the world was supposed to see how exemplary ties of fraternal and communal charity could be reknit more broadly across the whole fabric of society following the pattern of familial love. Where human relations end up instead is in a "perfectly inextricable knot of polygamy" (98), with pathologically disordered eroticism restricting all other loves. " She even makes charitable albeit ineffectual overtures toward Coverdale. Thus, the creative potential of love, as mediated through Zenobia's quasi-mythic womanhood, never comes to bloom at Blithedale.

Nowhere does he express more passionately the desire for a divine woman to serve as spiritual minister and mediator toward sinful man. Stressing here the Madonna's role as compassionate intercessor, the author may also betray his own psychic need to sacralize female sentiment and domesticity—in the person of someone like Sophia—as solace from the world's dark brutality. " Even Zenobia hesitates to endorse it in so many words. Perhaps she senses, in Coverdale's extravagant paean to womanhood, a certain disingenuousness on his part, a declaration of radical chic to which he will scarcely commit himself in practice.

But apparently this discovery, together with the Roman church's aura of ritualism and aestheticism, provoked no sensation of scandal or repugnance in him. He was not so Puritan as that. He objected rather to what he saw as that church's moral corruption, self-serving parochialism, unnatural requirement of priestly celibacy, and authoritarian governance. For these reasons, conversion was out of the question. " Yet, she goes on to insist, "A Christian girl—even a daughter of the Puritans—may surely pay honor to the idea of Divine Womanhood, without giving up the faith of her forefathers" (54).

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