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

By John Gatta

This article explores a extraordinary if not going undercurrent of curiosity in Mary as legendary Madonna, that has persevered in American lifestyles and letters from really early within the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This imaginitive involvement with the Divine girl - verging every now and then on devotional homage - is principally fascinating as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the point of interest of this examine: 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 reimbursement for what will be culturally clinically determined as a deficiency of psychic feminity, or "anima" in the United States. 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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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. Despite Hawthorne's suspicions of feminist ideology, this blight results largely from male deficiencies: from fears of involvement and eroticism on the part of Coverdale, from controlling ambitions on the part of Hollingsworth and Westervelt. Coverdale will ultimately profess to desire, if that is the right word, a fireside goddess like Priscilla rather than Zenobia, who confronts him with the life force of eternal womanhood.

39 Only briefly does Kenyon celebrate the return of divine womanhood represented in the Venusian goddess. Similarly, Kenyon had earlier shown himself capable of letting the queenly, divinely passionate womanhood of Cleopatra burn into marble through his own artistry, though almost despite himself. But he fails to respond sympathetically to Miriam when this real-life, full-bodied version of queenly womanhood visits his studio. Like Miriam herself, then, the emblematic figurine of Venus remains "Donatello's prize" (427).

The angel and apostle of the coming revelation must be a woman, indeed, but lofty, pure, and beautiful; and wise, moreover, not through dusky grief, but the ethereal medium of joy; and showing how sacred love should make us happy, by the truest test of a life successful to such an end! (263) But could a "mission of divine and mysterious truth" rest upon a woman "burdened with a life-long sorrow" if not sin? One would certainly suppose so, judging from the case of Christianity's Mother of Sorrows.

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