“Mary Baker Eddy and Sentimental Womanhood”
Parker, Gail. “Mary Baker Eddy and Sentimental Womanhood.” The New England Quarterly 43, no. 1 (1970): 3–18.
Parker provides a one-dimensional rendering of Mark Twain’s hostility and unease with the ‘formidable’ Eddy as having to do with her hypocritical ambition for money and business success (a man’s prerogative) while at the same time denying matter. Parker then contrasts Twain’s view with Leslie Fiedler’s view of Eddy as the embodiment of the virtuous sentimental feminine culture of her day. Parker chooses a psychoanalytical approach to Eddy bringing both the ambition (Twain) and the sanctity of 19th-century female spirituality (Fiedler) into tension in Eddy’s life. Parker sees Eddy’s desire to sublimate her willful personality through submission to the purity and safety of the feminine, and yet exploiting the culture of womanhood in order to fulfill her drive for success in leading a religious movement—i.e., “parlaying female spirituality into upward mobility” and hiding her ambition by calling her successes the “impersonal victories of the spirit” (10). Parker also explores possible sexual repression as a factor in Eddy’s relationships with men. Parker’s psychoanalytical approach misses why Eddy’s followers resonated with Eddy so deeply. Rather Parker takes the plentiful evidence of Eddy’s genuine love and care for her flock and for humankind and reduces it to mere ambition and self-serving purposes.
Print ISSN: 0028-4866
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- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Sex and Marriage
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Twain, Mark
- Publication Date: 1956-1980
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Feminist Perspectives
- Subjects: Polemic Literature and Responses
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies