Nature Vs Nurture Elsie Venner
Nature versus Nurture
In Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny Oliver Wendell Holmes portrays nature versus nurture. Holmes through his character of Elsie Venner is exploring the idea of inherited evil or learned evil. Is Elsie inherently evil because of her ophidian ways passed to her through her mother?s womb or is Elsie evil because of the way she is treated Throughout the novel Holmes uses Eden and ophidian imagery to stress ?his theory that our ancestors? lives shape ours; we cannot be held accountable.? (Parker p52) In his second preface to the novel Holmes states, ?The real aim of the story was to test the doctrine of ?original sin? and human responsibility.? (Holmes xii)
Oliver Wendell Holmes through this novel seems to be rebelling against his strict Calvinistic background by making Elsie a character to sympathize with. ?Holmes is concerned with refuting the Calvinist doctrine of divine punishment for the supposed ?evil? carried into the world by all men,? (Gallagher, p57) and he has ?set himself to their [Calvinistic dogmas] destruction as his task in literature.? (Perking, p107)
The story begins with an introduction of the Brahmin caste of New England of which the hero, Mr.
elsie, ev, venner, nature, nurture, holmes, bernard, novel, evil, throughout, eyes, because, through, being, people, ophidian, nature, love, elsie?s, eden, character, snake, referred, out, one, narrator, cold, young, women, wendell, way, time, strange, says, rattlesnake, mr, looking