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The Minister's Wooing

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The Minister's Wooing is a historical novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, first published in 1859. Set in 18th-century New England, the novel explores New England history, highlights the issue of slavery, and critiques the Calvinist theology in which Stowe was raised. Due to similarities in setting, comparisons are often drawn between this work and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850). However, in contrast to Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter, The Minister's Wooing is a "sentimental romance"; its central plot revolves around courtship and marriage. Moreover, Stowe's exploration of the regional history of New England deals primarily with the domestic sphere, the New England response to slavery, and the psychological impact of the Calvinist doctrines of predestination and disinterested benevolence.With its intense focus upon the history, customs, and mannerisms of New England, The Minister's Wooing is one sense an example of the local color writing that proliferated in late 19th century. However, by highlighting the issue of slavery, this time in the north, The Minister's Wooing also represents a continuation of Stowe's earlier anti-slavery novels. Finally, the work serves as a critique of Calvinism, written from the perspective of an individual deeply familiar with the theological system. Stowe's father was the well-known Calvinist minister Lyman Beecher, and Stowe based many aspects of the novel upon events in the lives of herself and her older sister Catharine's life. Throughout the novel, Stowe portrays the reaction of different personality types to the pressures of Calvinist principles, illustrating in this manner what she perceives as Calvinism's strengths and weaknesses. In particular, responding to the untimely death of her sister's fiancé and the death of two of her own children, Stowe addresses the issue of predestination, the idea that individuals were either saved or damned, and only the elect would go to heaven.
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original title: The Minister's Wooing
date of publication: 1859
genre: historical novel
main subject: slavery in the United States

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