Title

The Marriage of Transcendentalist and Biblical Ideologies in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Gilead

Presenter Information

Samantha BainerFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Liberal Arts

Minor

Creative Writing

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Ray Horton

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Biblical texts often use signs in nature to underscore a larger, more miraculous sign from God and guide their subjects closer to salvation. In both Marilynne Robinson’s novels Housekeeping and Gilead, the main characters undergo a significant mental transformation that brings them a deeper understanding of the world around them, which is brought about by natural elements such as water and fire. These natural symbols are deeply rooted in the Bible and in the traditions of the Church, with fire symbolizing a divine providence from God and water taking on a purifying effect in the form of baptism. Robinson uses these symbols in their natural capacity as opposed to solely using their biblical implications; she draws on a sense of sublime and the didactic principles of creation that closely resembles the Transcendentalist movement of the late 19th century. In her work, Robinson uses fire to mark the beginning of a different life for her narrators. The fire burning down the old life and ushering them into the new, placing them on a path to salvation. Water, on the other hand, has a purifying aspect. After being exposed to water, either in the form of rain or in a baptism, Ruth in Housekeeping and John Ames in Gilead are able to shed the weight of society. The water changes their perspective, and leads them closer to a life where they reach a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. By using scripture coupled with ideas presented in recent scholarly articles about Robinson’s work, a link can be made between water and fire elements in her novels and the core principles of biblical teachings. Ultimately making a connection between traditional Christian religion and the Transcendentalist movement in both Gilead and Housekeeping.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Other

Other Scholars Week Event

ENG 444

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The Marriage of Transcendentalist and Biblical Ideologies in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Gilead

Biblical texts often use signs in nature to underscore a larger, more miraculous sign from God and guide their subjects closer to salvation. In both Marilynne Robinson’s novels Housekeeping and Gilead, the main characters undergo a significant mental transformation that brings them a deeper understanding of the world around them, which is brought about by natural elements such as water and fire. These natural symbols are deeply rooted in the Bible and in the traditions of the Church, with fire symbolizing a divine providence from God and water taking on a purifying effect in the form of baptism. Robinson uses these symbols in their natural capacity as opposed to solely using their biblical implications; she draws on a sense of sublime and the didactic principles of creation that closely resembles the Transcendentalist movement of the late 19th century. In her work, Robinson uses fire to mark the beginning of a different life for her narrators. The fire burning down the old life and ushering them into the new, placing them on a path to salvation. Water, on the other hand, has a purifying aspect. After being exposed to water, either in the form of rain or in a baptism, Ruth in Housekeeping and John Ames in Gilead are able to shed the weight of society. The water changes their perspective, and leads them closer to a life where they reach a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. By using scripture coupled with ideas presented in recent scholarly articles about Robinson’s work, a link can be made between water and fire elements in her novels and the core principles of biblical teachings. Ultimately making a connection between traditional Christian religion and the Transcendentalist movement in both Gilead and Housekeeping.