The Marriage of Heaven and Earth: Alchemical Regeneration in the Works of Taylor, Poe, Hawthorne, and Fuller

Synopsis

From the Middle Ages to the close of the 17th century, alchemy was fundamental to Western culture. Though its significance declined with the rise of chemistry, the lore of alchemy still colors imaginative works in the modern world. This study examines the literary representation of alchemical theory and the metaphor of alchemical regeneration in the works of Edward Taylor, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. While Taylor used alchemical metaphors to illustrate the redeeming power of God's grace, Poe used them to represent the transforming power of imagination. Hawthorne, in turn, used alchemical imagery to show the restorative power of love, while Fuller employed alchemical figures to suggest the reconciliation of gender opposites.