By Deborah L. Madsen (auth.)
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Extra resources for Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism
The 'divine destination' of Augustine's description has to be the sacred book, and allegorical narratives until the Romantic period used Scripture in this way as part of a displacement strategy that allowed the narrative to deal with interpretative issues that cannot be resolved in corporeal terms. But the strategy relies crucially upon the assumption that the reader shares a commitment to the sacred book as being sacred and so capable of functioning as a 'divine destination'. As we shall see in the following chapters, writers of allegory have not always been able to make this crucially important assumption.
Not all colonists shared this view, of course; I will turn shortly to the attitude of dissenters like Robert Cushman and Roger Williams. But the orthodox clergy used the integrative power of typology to extend their influence into as many areas of cultural life as possible. Each of the visible churches were joined through the federal covenant and to them was joined the invisible church of the elect, through the covenant of grace. So the individual was spiritually bound to the church, to a community-based gathering of the faithful, to a divinely instituted form of government, and to the providential history of which the individual soul is part.
The radical linkage of the present with the past denies access to accurate subjective (and objective) interpretations of truth. There is no pattern of promise and fulfilment to be found in this narrative. Instead, Hawthorne focuses upon the elevation of subjectivity itself into a timeless, and hence changeless, semantic pattern within which redemption is impossible. Hawthorne's retelling of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, in "The Celestial Railroad', also presents a dim view of the relevance of Puritan typology for nineteenth-century America.
Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism by Deborah L. Madsen (auth.)