Anne Hébert American Literature Analysis
In Les Songes en équilibre, Anne Hébert made it clear that she saw her purpose in writing as a religious one: Her works were intended to help other human beings attain salvation. These early poems reflected Hébert’s Catholic upbringing and, more specifically, the rigid views of the Jansenists, who had largely taken away the French Canadian church from the more forgiving Jesuits. However, Hébert’s views altered drastically during the 1940’s. The imagery of the second volume reflects this change. For example, communion, which in the earlier poems was described as a sacrament that is given and received with childlike faith, is now likened to the violent coupling of doomed lovers. The poet’s attitude toward her art has changed, too. Instead of a means of religious salvation, it is now viewed as itself a form of salvation. The bread of heaven, which united the faithful with their Redeemer, has now become the bread of human expression, which enables poets to break out of the terrible solitude that Hébert now sees as the human condition.
If Hébert had rejected the faith of her childhood, if she now saw Jansenist Catholicism as repressive rather than redeeming, she was far from being a liberated romantic.Like the Jansenists, she still saw human beings as possessing an affinity for sin; like them, she believed that men and women were incapable of choosing between good and evil. However, where Jansenism offered the possibility of redemption...
(The entire section is 2569 words.)
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