Sullen Fires Across the
1 For a
summary of conjectured sources, see Newman, 333-336. While
most of the sources Newman summarizes are literary, he also
points to oral tradition: "The witch folklore transmitted
through oral tradition is difficult to document, yet during
the course of growing up in the environs of Salem,
Hawthorne had to have been exposed to some of the local
folk beliefs" (333).
2 Writes the
folklorist Mary Ellen Brown: "Burns’ focus in his
early work on local topics, his frequent use of traditional
material, his acceptance of the fluidity of texts, his
stress on audience and the oral socialization of his own
works, and his articulated views on the function of
composition—all suggest Burns’ strong and
largely intuitive ties to the traditional and particularly
oral matrix of late eighteenth-century Ayrshire" (6).
pacification of the Highlands involved deliberate attempts
to eradicate traditional forms of culture in order to root
out remaining sources of indigenous identity and national
pride" (Trumpener 29).
4 See Davis
5 See, for
example, Manning: "Scotland underwent—debated,
theorized, experienced, resisted, imagined—union
before the American colonies; the literature that emerged
from this experience inevitably proved potent when the
colonists began to formulate their own responses to a
crisis in their relationship with England"
6 See also
Larry J. Reynolds’ account of the effect that
European history had on Hawthorne’s attitude toward
nation’s formal literature needs to be based on the
creative accomplishments of its folk, regardless of how
crude that body of materials may seem to the sophisticated
classes of society . . . . the sense of nationality is
derived from the unsophisticated folk poetry of the people"
(Herder, qtd. in Bluestein 5).
8 See Bland,
the decline of sacred communities, languages and lineages,
a fundamental change was taking place in modes of
apprehending the world, which, more than anything else,
made it possible to ‘think’ the nation"
12 In a
letter to Francis Grose (401 summer 1790) Burns recounts
three of "the many Witch Stories I have heard relating to
Aloway Kirk" (22).
cites Walker Connor’s view that "nations, like ethnic
groups, are phenomena of mass psychology and ultimately of
felt kinship" (72).
Dundes: "Projection is one of a number of psychological
defense mechanisms which provides an unconscious screen or
arena for display of the causes of anxiety and it is for
this reason that folkloristic projections are so
"Shadows of Doubt: Specter Evidence in Hawthorne's 'Young
Goodman Brown,'" Levin shows how Brown, and perhaps the
reader, falls for the same kind of "ocular deceptions" used
to convict witches during the Salem trials.
argues that nations can be traced to "popular participation
in large-scale cults and rituals, in the performance of
ethical and religious obligations which bind a community of
presumed ancestry into a community of faith and worship, in
the sense of community evoked by symbols and myths of
ethnic origins and election, and in shared memories of
ancestors and heroic deeds" (Smith 111).
calls the Devil’s oration in "Young Goodman Brown" "a
demonic inversion of Dimmesdale’s Election Day sermon
in The Scarlet Letter"
Larner: "A witch was, by definition, an abnormal person.
The execution of a witch was a demonstration of group
solidarity. It removed the provocative deviant and
redefined the boundaries of normality to secure the safety
of the virtuous community . . . . Witchcraft was more than
crime for the practitioner was an enemy and witch process
was directed against the eradication of public enemies"
Marianne Hester: "The accusation of women was not merely a
reflection of an age-old stereotype, not merely the
by-produce of a patriarchal society; the witch-hunts were a
part of, and one example of, the ongoing mechanisms for
social control of women within a general context of social
change and the reconstruction of a patriarchal society"