The Dark Side of Nathaniel Hawthorne in The House of Seven Gables

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The Dark Side of Nathaniel Hawthorne in The House of Seven Gables

In The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne

exhibits the fate of a family due to a curse by analyzing

the most “disagreeable” secrets of a man’s soul (Great Lives

1077). Hawthorne shows the decay of an aristocratic family

due to the sins of the past. He uses allegory within his

character’s personalities and emotions to expose “the truth

of the human heart” (biography).

Hawthorne’s chosen location for this novel reflects

greatly on his life and specifically his childhood. Salem

is the home of The House of the Seven Gables. Ironically

this is the same town in which he was born in and lived in

through adulthood. He was raised in this town, therefore he

was very aware of the dark side of its past. He was a part

of this past through his ancestors. One of which was a

judge in the infamous Salem witch trials. At this trial

Hawthorne’s uncle is cursed by a so-called witch with the

words, “God will give you blood to drink” (Magill 2736).

This curse is much similar to Matthew Maule’s curse on the

Pyncheon family (Magill 2734). The solitude of his

characters reflects his childhood as well. Growing up, his


mother kept herself away from people which led him to become

a very solitary man for much of his life. As a young child

Hawthorne was lamed. During these years he became well

learned with the writings of Edmund Spenser, John Bunyan,

and William Shakespear(CSLF 1570). From these men he has

gained technique and style.

Having lived in Salem most of his life, Hawthorne is

extremely influenced by Puritanism. His writings greatly

reflect this. Hawthorne deals much with the sins of a man

being pasted down for generations. This is very much a

Puritan belief. Puritans are a very superstitious type of

person. Thus, this explains Hawthorne’s belief that a

curse, such as Maule’s curse, can destroy a well-to-do

family (Walker 1577). Hawthorne’s characters dealt with

guilt forced on by their ancestor, much of which goes back

as far as the Puritans. He commonly plays guilt against

innocence within one character, Hepzibah Pyncheon. She

feels strongly that she must maintain the lifestyle and

tradition of her ancestor Colonel Pyncheon. He shows her

many personalitie...

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