By Deborah L. Madsen (auth.)
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Additional resources for Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism
141). The appearance of absolute depravity causes Goodman Brown to abandon all hope for redemption. He assumes that his sight is empowered to perceive only the correct meaning of the signs with which he is confronted. The subjective style of interpretation that is his as a Puritan does not allow for the corruption of perception by sin or by the influence of evil and there is no external means of hermeneutic legitimation to which he may have recourse. It is not only the emphasis upon the subjective in Puritan exegesis that Hawthorne criticizes.
Personifications emerged from the classical allegorical tradition and, in fact, this trope was subject to extensive analysis by the classical rhetoricians. Personifications are essentially static, bound by the signifying limits of the concept that determines them. Characters which are typologically determined, in contrast, are involved in a dynamic historical process. As in the Psychomachia, the figure of Abraham foreshadows the Christie operations of faith under the new dispensation: he represents literally the old Law and spiritually the covenant of faith.
In the manner prescribed by patristic exegetes like Origen of Alexandria, the allegory of the Psychomachia reveals the Christological significance of Scripture and the relevance of this dimension of meaning for the salvation of souls. The Psychomachia thematizes the activity of allegorical interpretation in a way that is impossible within the limits of homiletical writings. Prudentius has the scope to create fictional characters who Allegory in the Old World 27 then dramatize the complexities involved in interpreting the biblical text.