Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Protestant Confession

There is a beautiful chapter in Hawthornes Marble Faun that includes a Protestant seeking to relieve her guilt and burdens in a Catholic Confessional. The link is here.

In this scene, the girl rationalizes that confession is such a beautiful thing, why should it be reserved for only the Catholics. So, she tries to avail herself of the sacrament, and indeed feels better afterwards, but refuses to enter the fold as the priest offers afterward.

Herein, Hawthorne is like the Israelites who, fresh from the slavery of Egypt, are able to SEE the promised land, but for various reasons - perhaps for fear of "giants who eat their own children" -refuse to enter it. Although they recognize and see the beauties that have been promised to them, and to which they have a right as children of God, they refuse to take part.

As a writer, Hawthorne struggled with the idea of guilt and felt that his family had a great burden to carry because of their part in the Salem Witch Trials. He traveled to Italy, and his daughter eventually converted to Catholicism and began the Hawthorne Dominicans whose mission it is to care for the elderly and dying.

While Hawthorne is a prolific writer and has gifted the world with some excellent works, his true gift to the world has to be his daughter, Rose. You can find out more information about her here.

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