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

By John Gatta

This article explores a awesome if not going undercurrent of curiosity in Mary as legendary Madonna, that has continued in American existence and letters from rather early within the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This creative involvement with the Divine girl - verging from time to time on devotional homage - is principally fascinating as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the point of interest 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 reimbursement for what should be culturally clinically determined as a deficiency of psychic feminity, or "anima" in the US. He argues that the literary configurations of the legendary Madonna exhibit a subsurface cultural resistance to the existing rationalism and pragmatism of the yank brain in an age of entrepreneurial conquest.

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Here Donatello calls her back into existence by intoning one word: her name. ' said she" (320). Through this annunciation, "Miriam" effectively becomes the woman's real name, just as she becomes from that moment a kind of new Eve, devoid of danger to Donatello. Yet within the tale, we never see either Miriam or Donatello attaining the final fruits of redemption. In fact, Miriam's final vocation of divine womanhood draws her closer to the Mary of Sorrows than to Venus. Like Sodoma's sublime fresco of Christ bound to a pillar, her life ends up illustrating the challenge of "reconciling the incongruity of Divine Omnipotence and outraged, suffering Humanity" (340).

As an exceptional woman forging a vocation as artist and intellectual, Fuller identified readily with this goddess of wisdom who nourished craft, beauty, and civilization. "13 Although Minerva does not gain clear literary prominence in Fuller's writing until "The Great Lawsuit" and Woman in the Nineteenth Century, where she becomes psychic complement to the Muse aspect of womanhood, she also figures briefly in various letters, essays, and poems. " Writing to Emerson, she associates Minerva with her own search for creative inspiration.

If her apparel as the veiled lady betokens her inaccessibility, it links her ambiguously not only with a sacred sisterhood, with the spiritual realm of the Marian Madonna, but also with the Eastern harem,30 as reinforced through hints of latent sexuality such as those surrounding her silk purse. These several connotations of the veil envelop Zenobia as well, culminating in her macabre deathshroud reference in the farewell prophecy that "her face will be behind the black-veil" (227—28). Yet insofar as Priscilla does typologize the simple younger and virginal aspect of goddess mythology, she remains a disembodied woman.

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