The Failure to Illuminate Theron Ware
The following paper is an exploration of the hierarchy of ideologies in Harold Frederic’s `The Damnation of Theron Ware` depicted by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The following paper examines how the real tragedy of `The Damnation of Theron Ware ` is that just as the title character, Theron, becomes illuminated and finally begins to see the truth of things, he is `saved`, or rather, damned by Sister Soulsby’s deliverance.
“While most critics agree that the title character of Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware represents the clash of traditional ideas with new beliefs, it remains ambiguous as to what the true agent of Theron’s damnation is. Frederic places conservative Methodism in opposition to three waves of thought: New Asceticism, New Catholicism, and New Science. Theron’s awakening to these ideas provides the catalyst for his fall, but the real instrument of his damnation is the pragmatic wisdom represented by Sister Soulsby. Theron Ware begins the novel as a vessel for 19th C. American ideals. He is a Methodist Protestant, emphasizing his heart over his head and representing a non-intellectual emphasis on private morality. He is also an Emersonian, a believer in self-reliance and a romantic lover of nature. His faith that he can enter into a new intellectual sphere is spurred by his Emersonian ideals; however his actual experience is reminiscent of the work of Henry James in such novels as The American. Like Newman, Theron attempts to be something he is not. There are naturalistic, deterministic elements at work that suggest that both Newman and Theron are doomed because they quite simply cannot cross cultural boundaries. This pessimism pervades Frederic’s novel as we see Theron stumble blindly on, becoming more and more foolish, just as he believes he is being enlightened. ”