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Symbolism In The House Of Seven Gables

2703 words - 11 pages

Symbolism in The House of Seven Gables           

 
   Literature reflects life, and the struggles that each

of us must face. Great authors incorporate life's

problems into their literature directly and indirectly.  The author

bluntly tell us a story, however, he or she may also use symbols

to relay to us a message in a more subtle manner.  In Nathaniel

Hawthorne's book The House of Seven Gables symbolism is used

to enhance the story being told, by giving us a deeper insight into the

author's intentions in writing the story.

        The book begins by describing the most obvious symbol of the house

itself.  The house itself takes on human like ...view middle of the document...

  This turns the house into an

interesting, but still depressing place that darkens the book in many

ways.  Hawthorne means for the house's gloomy atmosphere to symbolize

many things in his book.

        The house also is used to symbolize a prison that has darkened the

lives of its inmates forever.  The house is a prison because it prevents

its inhabitants form truly enjoying any freedom.  The inhabitants try to

escape from their incarceration twice.  Initially, as Phoebe and

Clifford watch the parade of life in the street, Clifford "realizes his

state of isolation from the 'one broad mass of existence-one great life,

- one collected body of mankind,' and he cannot resist the actual

physical attempt to plunge down into the 'surging stream of human

sympathy'" (Rountree 101).  Dillingham believes that  "Hawthorne clearly

describes Clifford's great need to become reunited with the world and

hints that this reunion can be accomplished only by death" (Rountree

101).  However, Clifford inevitably fails to win his freedom, and he

returns to the solace of his prison house.  Clifford and Hepzibah

attempt once more to escape their captive prison, but the house has

jaded them too much already (Rountree 102).  This is apparent when

        Hepzibah and her brother made themselves ready- as ready as they could,

in the best of their old-fashion garments, which had hung on pegs, or

been laid away in trunks, so long that the dampness and mouldy smell of

the past was on them - made themselves ready, in their faded bettermost,

to go to church.  They descended the staircase together, ... pulled open

the front door, and stept across the threshold, and felt, both of them,

as if they were standing in the presence of the whole world... Their

hearts quaked within them, at the idea of taking one step further.

(Hawthorne 169)

Hepzibah and Clifford are completely cut off from the outside world.

They are like prisoners who after being jailed for decades return to

find a world they do not know.(Rountree 101).  Clifford is deeply

saddened when he says, " 'We are ghosts!  We have no right among human

beings - no right anywhere, but in this old house"(Hawthorne 169).  The

house has imprisoned their souls and trapped their lives.  Hence, the

house symbolizes a prison for its inhabitants.

The house also symbolizes the history of the of Pyncheon family dating

back to the original Colonel Pyncheon who had been cursed by Matthew

Maule for the evil way in which the Colonel obtained the land for the

house.  The house has collected memories upon memories of the people who

have lived there, beginning with its original owners the Colonel and

Alice Pyncheon.  This point of symbolism is argued by E. P. Whipple who

thinks that the house's elaborate interior symbolizes the history of the

Pyncheon Family.  It has mostly the...

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