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By John Gatta

This article explores a extraordinary if not going 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 ingenious involvement with the Divine girl - verging now and then on devotional homage - is mainly exciting as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the focal point 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 could 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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Instead she witnesses to the power of the subliminal self, of dreams, of id instincts linked to demonism and invocations of female potency. Fuller identifies her with occult ritual, with the blood red carbuncle sought by alchemists and fictionalized by Novalis. "16 Leila also functions as a composite icon of the vestal virgin, bacchante, earth mother, Venus, Diana, Phoebe, Io, Hecate, and Isis. Accordingly, Fuller's 1844 poem devoted to "Leila in the Arabian zone" insists that such goddess figures "Only Leila's children are" (233).

Denied residence in the central settlement, Hester must also create her own version of community—her own holy family, as it were—with Pearl. 25 Iconographically, the opening tableau of Hester and Pearl as Madonna and Child fits into a symbolic triptych that is completed by the other two scaffold scenes. In the final scene, Hester remains the mother of Pearl; more curiously, she also adopts the posture of both lover and grieving mother toward Dimmesdale. The pieta pose has been commonly mirrored in the book's pictorial illustrations (figure I.

While Kenyon renders her sanctimonious homage, her priggish innocence is apt to draw more contempt than veneration from presentday readers. Indeed, one needs only a little feminist perception to see Hilda reflecting the worst sort of "madonna" image of womanhood. As such, she projects a male fantasy of domestic tranquility, a disembodied ideal remote from flesh and blood THE SACRED WOMAN IN HAWTHORNE 29 humanity. More lamentably still, one cannot help sensing from the narration that a good deal of Hawthorne, in consort with Kenyon, embraces this view of Hilda as sanctified Madonna, Yet within the cross-purposes of Hawthorne's imperfectly unified fiction, the matter is complicated by other shadings—perhaps subconscious—of authorial intention.

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