Symbolism in The House of Seven Gables

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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 characteristics as it is

being described by Hawthorne in the opening chapters. The house is

described as "breathing through the spiracles of one great

chimney"(Hawthorne 7). Hawthorne uses descriptive lines like this to

turn the house into a symbol of the lives that have passed through its

halls. The house takes on a persona of a living creature that exists

and influences the lives of everybody who enters through its doors.

(Colacurcio 113) "So much of mankind's varied experience had passed

there - so much had been suffered, and something, too, enjoyed - that

the very timbers were oozy, as with the moisture of a heart." (Hawthorne

27). Hawthorne turns the house into a symbol of the collection of all

the hearts that were darkened by the house. "It was itself like a great

human heart, with a life of its own, and full of rich and somber

reminiscences" (Hawthorne 27). Evert Augustus Duyckinck agrees that "The

chief perhaps, of the dramatis personae, is the house itself. From its

turrets to its kitchen, in every nook and recess without and within, it

is alive and vital." (Hawthorne 352) Duyckinck feels that the house is

meant to be used as a symbol of an actual character, "Truly it is an

actor in the scene"(Hawthorne 352). 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
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