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Darkness in the Service of Manifest Destiny as Portrayed by Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian

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Darkness in the Service of Manifest Destiny as Portrayed by Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian

Now when this horrible Lucifer, as a tyrant and raging spoiler of all that is good, shewed himself thus terribly, as if he would kindle and destroy all, and bring all under his jurisdiction, then all the heavenly hosts and armies were against him, and he also against them all; there now the fight began, for all stood most terribly, one party against another.

Jacob Boehme, The Aurora, … Or The Morning Rednesse In The Rising Of The Sun

On the surface Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is an extremely violent narrative based on historical events, which aims at dispelling the stereotypes of heroic frontier mythology. Within it, however, we do not find too many traditional elements that normally constitute the mainstream perception of American Wild West history. Nonetheless, if we decide that Blood Meridian is nothing more than a rebellion against historical stereotype, we are bound to miss the layer that underlies and defines its fundamental idea. This layer is represented by McCarthy’s consistent references to the mythological, theosophical and Hermetic symbols and archetypes. The mythological narrative in the novel echoes the eschatological battle between the good and evil resulting in the regeneration of the Cosmos. While it is very difficult to trace all the aspects and details of the mythological mystery play that saturate the novel, the hinge of the story is represented by a single character, Judge Holden. Despite the fact that formally the judge is not in charge of Glanton’s gang, he sets its goals and directions as well as its ultimate fate. He is a representation of a multifaceted deity that is instrumental in the setting and defining of the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The borderland in the novel, which is effectively the world of death and chaos, has to be cleansed and renewed by destruction in order to be later incorporated into the world of the living, the order and civilization. The mission of the sculphunters is the battle in service of regeneration of the borderland in which they turn out to be confederates and instruments of the deity. Judge Holden’s mission is accomplished when the borderland diminishes and the sculphunters, who do not have place in the world of the living, are physically destroyed by that world. Thus, both the world of the dead and Glanton’s gang

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