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From Salem Is My Dwelling Place by Edwin Haviland Miller, p. 110.

From Salem Is My Dwelling Place by Edwin Haviland Miller, p. 110.

The tales not gathered in Twice-told Tales confirm the compelling power of the patriarchal figure on Hawthorne's imagination. The reenactment in " Alice Doane's Appeal" of the horrors perpetrated on Gallows Hill in 1692 includes a processional dominated by the most potent intellectual and religious figure of the age, who gave sanction to John Hathorne's misdirected zeal to hang witches.
In the rear of the procession road a figure on horseback, so darkly conspicuous, so sternly triumphant, that my hearers mistook him for the visible presence of the fiend himself; but it was only his good friend, Cotton Mather, proud of his well won dignity, as the representative of all the hateful features of his time; the one blood-thirsty man, in whom were concentrated those vices of spirit and errors of opinion, that sufficed to madden the whole surrounding multitude.
Mather is one of the first of the Bad Fathers who tower over Hawthorne's landscape as he restages the eternal divisions between parents and children. Often, like Mather, they are sadistic men disguised as ministers, scientists, and artists, secretly lusting to destroy innocent women. Hawthorne recognizes the sexual dimensions of power, influenced no doubt by the wanton acts of his forebears and by his intuitive awareness of his own lusts and the compelling attractiveness of incestuous and deviant sexual desires.

Source: Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991.


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