American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary by John Gatta

By John Gatta

This article explores a awesome if not likely undercurrent of curiosity in Mary as legendary Madonna, that has continued in American lifestyles and letters from relatively early within the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This inventive involvement with the Divine girl - verging now and then on devotional homage - is principally exciting as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the focal point of this learn: 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 could 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 exhibit a subsurface cultural resistance to the present rationalism and pragmatism of the yank brain in an age of entrepreneurial conquest.

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Zenobia's cognomen, connecting her to the queen of ancient Palmyra, is the most obvious token of this identification, which is supported by numerous hints of her queenly bearing. But what does "the queenliness of her presence" (44) signify in the context of Hawthorne's narrative? Most plainly, it betokens the royal autonomy and pride endemic to her character. It likewise expresses Zenobia's singularity, her naturally aristocratic stature as "the freshest and rosiest woman of a thousand" (46).

The rose is Dante's culminating image of allembracing sacred love in the Paradiso; it is also a traditional flower of Mary, signifying the divine tenderness of maternal love. Some such tenderness Coverdale briefly locates not in Zenobia but in Hollingsworth, whose priestly ministry toward afflicted humanity strikes him as "the reflection of God's own love" (43). In fact, Zenobia's ultimate failure to love her sister, Priscilla, epitomizes the larger failure of Blithedale. 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.

Irving Howe aptly calls her "a kind of New England earth goddess"; she is accordingly, for Nina Baym, a woman in whom "all kinds of passionate and creative energies have united in a fundamental Eros,"31 to which Coverdale—both as male associate and as narrator—responds with fearful ineptitude. " Zenobia's cognomen, connecting her to the queen of ancient Palmyra, is the most obvious token of this identification, which is supported by numerous hints of her queenly bearing. But what does "the queenliness of her presence" (44) signify in the context of Hawthorne's narrative?

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