University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Virgin and the Dynamo by Henry Adams
Henry Adams is of the view that medieval civilization was controlled by the church and the Virgin of Chartres. The Virgin was a representation of love and faith. Medieval civilization dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. According to Henry, the people in medieval civilization led their lives in accordance to the church. During this time, life was simple without much development. Life was not considered to be impressive as there were no changes expected to occur with time.
People were glued to the church and the cross, which Adams considers to be very mysterious. Medieval civilization is seen to be more linked to the history of man. This period was realized through good morals, trust and faith with regard to Christianity. Medieval civilization was characterized by uniformity where everyone was equal without looking forward to change. The dynamo is associated with modern civilization. The dynamo is a symbolic representation of technology.
It was seen as the reason why man drifted away from Christianity. The coming of the dynamo was associated with great attention drifting from the church and the virgin to the more actual phenomenon of the dynamo. The dynamo which is a representation of technology was expected to yield into more changes with time. The dynamo was seen as a representation of power and energy. It was characterized by change and the need to expand. Generally speaking, civilization is in the hands of man.
Just like the dynamo was powerful in the age of technology, so did the virgin of Chartres in the 12th and 13th centuries. Apparently, civilization is defined depending on the current moment and time. That is why, during the medieval times, civilization was linked to the cross while the 20th and 21st centuries have been associated with technology. Adams acknowledges and prefers the modern type of civilization as he considers it to have an absolute fiat unlike medieval civilization.