“Double Double Toil and Trouble”: the Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Narrative
  • Pages : 9 (3061 words )
  • Download(s) : 178
  • Published : April 1, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Abstract
“Double Double Toil and Trouble”: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (The Weird Sisters, Macbeth, 4.1.20)
James Hogg’s literary masterpiece, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, hereinafter referred to as Confessions, shows attention to the accuracy of the history of Scotland, the radical Scottish Presbyterianism of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Scottish countryside, and the city of Edinburgh intermingled with the narratives to create a compelling supernatural tale. I shall discuss how Confessions is distinguished by considerable doubling in theme and in form. The double narrative tells the story in two different perspectives by two different people while doubling in the story illustrates the contrast between good and evil with the added lagniappe of a nightmarish doppelganger.

“Double Double Toil and Trouble”: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (The Weird Sisters, Macbeth, 4.1.20)
James Hogg’s literary masterpiece, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, hereinafter referred to as Confessions, shows attention to the accuracy of the history of Scotland, the radical Scottish Presbyterianism of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and the Scottish countryside intermingled with the narratives to create a compelling supernatural tale. I shall discuss how Confessions is distinguished by considerable doubling in theme and in form. The double narrative tells the story in two different perspectives by two different people while doubling in the story illustrates the contrast between good and evil with the added lagniappe of a nightmarish doppelganger. Hogg’s Confessions is highly esteemed by enthusiasts of dark romance as the finest of the nineteenth century. This story is a dazzling blend of the mystery story, a cutting satire on religious fanaticism of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in Scotland, and the confession of a mad man (Dirda, 188). The text presents the history for consideration from the perspective of the objective unknown third-person Editor according to Enlightenment ideals and from Robert Wringhim, whose memoir, dug up with his corpse, is shown as “the rage of fanaticism in former days.” (Duncan). In his essay, “Fanaticism and Civil Society: Hogg’s Justified Sinner,” Ian Duncan says, The division of narratives in [Confessions] maps the foundational antagonism in which civil society and fanaticism have mutually defined each other since the beginning of the sixteenth century…Hogg’s novel allows us to read fanaticism as the dialectical product of objective historical processes of modernization—a more radical ideology of modernity rather than some archaic, residual, or atavistic moral force. Far from originating in alien cultures, civil society and fanaticism grow up together, each unthinkable without the other.

Using many examples of pairing and doubling in theme and form Hogg advances for critique not only Robert’s Antinomian fanaticism, but also the dubiously enlightened objectivity of the Editor. Both views are inadequate leaving the reader in a quagmire of questions.

The Editor’s narrative seems to be frank and truthful, though his clear sympathies reveal how subjective he really is as a contemporary ‘enlightened’ man. His expounding weakens his objective standpoint by his own acceptance of the supernatural as a valid force in the story. The complex narrative form of the novel presents big challenges to the reader. At the center of the plot is Robert Wringhim who is indoctrinated from birth in the theological beliefs of extreme Antinomian Calvinism, by his biological parents Reverend Wringhim and Rabina Orde Colwan, also known as Lady Dalcastle. Robert kills his half-brother, George, and a number of others, as well as committing a rape. Robert does not remember performing these heinous acts and is in a constant state of anxiety. In Mei Yong Wern’s essay,...
tracking img