Anthony Splendora, Independent Scholar, Pennsylvania, USA
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Human interpretation fails, for a turbulent life-situation has arisen that refuses to fit any of the traditional meanings assigned to it. It is a moment of collapse. We sink into a final depth — Apuleius calls it “a kind of voluntary death.” . . . This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life itself.
Carl Jung, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (1934), p. 66
. . . if it is true that man is capable of everything horrible, it is also true that the horrible always engenders counterforces and that in most epochs of atrocious occurrences the great vital forces of the human soul reveal themselves: love and sacrifice, heroism in the service of conviction, and the ceaseless search for possibilities of a purer existence.
Erich Auerbach, Mimesis (1946), p. 59
Somewhere, if not in the New England of his time, Hawthorne unearthed the image of a goddess supreme in beauty and power.
Mark Van Doren, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1949), p. 154
Overview: Striking Isomorphism
A literary creation of profound cultural significance, the courageous and attractive, healthily libidinous young woman of whom I write is rhetorical to a time and artistic milieu earlier than her author’s and much earlier than ours. Projected novelistically in a tale of waywardness, epic but sublimated love, suffering, exemplary penance, fortitude and triumph, she appears at the end of one epoch and the beginning of another. She is referred to internally as a “destined prophetess” – externally as the “emergent divinity” of that latter, dawning era, and her forbidden love affair with a divine, fair-haired boy of the conservative, male-dominated religious establishment, her engagement in quite specific disobedience to its strictures, has echoes of other famously fallen, transitional women of incalculable cultural-historical sentence. Punishment for the complications arising from her transgression, a hieros gamos, is forthcoming, as it is to those other notorious females, but her godly, complicit lover suffers a grievous wound as well. Imbued by Nature, however, with the earthy, miraculous virtues and resilience of organically natural grace, she endures her initiatory ordeal and eventually prevails. Moreover, her recognition as harbinger of the forthcoming awareness, and her adherence to its mandate, elevate her to fulfillment of her own prophecy: hers is an ascension that heralds the decline and final collapse of the consecrated establishment that sanctioned her. In being doubly mythologized – for ideologically-defined immorality before her ascension and in universal sanctification after, her experience also carries allegorical implications specific to the troubled time of her authorial creation. In addition, her secretive liaison with divinity results in the production of a famous and aptly-named child, a projective symbol of life and fulfillment transcending that superannuating ideology.