Use of Symbolism in Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables

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Use of Symbolism in Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables

In the novel The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne portrays Alice Pyncheon as a unique and compelling character, placing her in contrast with a story full of greed, lies and betrayal. Hawthorne reveals her fantastic character to us in numerous uses of symbolism throughout the novel. By painting a picture of a gentle yet proud woman, Hawthorne chooses to represent Alice's impressive characteristics using images that come up repeatedly in his novel such as the nature and flowers in the garden as well as Alice's Posies. Hawthorne also makes reference to the Maule "mastery" and its power over Alice and the playing of the harpsichord during a Pyncheon death. All the symbols culminated above, lead to an in depth analysis of Alice Pyncheon's character, her innocence, pride, beauty and mournful sorrow.

According to Hawthorne, Alice had an uncanny resemblance to the flowers of the Pyncheon garden represented by her beauty and presence. Just as flowers hold a purity and freedom in their appearance, Alice was described as a "lady that was born and set apart from the world's vulgar mass by a certain gentle and cold stateliness" (178). Her strong appearance, as Hawthorne states, was "combined of beauty, high, unsullied purity, and the preservative force of womanhood" (180). Hawthorne shows that Alice represents the beauty of a flower as well as its scent when he says "the fragrance of her rich and delightful character still lingered . . . as a dried rosebud scents the drawer where it has withered and perished" (79). Even after her death, the "scent" of Alice's character still haunts the House of the Seven Gables with its beauty and tenderness like that of the flo...

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... on a note from Alice's harpsichord off a new sheet of music for the Pyncheon family. By using the nature of the garden to prolong the tenderness and purity of Alice's character and spirit even after death, Hawthorne entices the reader to dig deeper into the character of Alice Pyncheon and search for the symbols present that shape her undying character. With her loss of pride to the Maule "mastery" and the sorrow expressed through her untimely and unnecessary death, there is no question as to why Alice's harpsichord plays such a mournful tune throughout the novel. It is only in the end that her life and her happiness are rewarded and her long awaiting spirit is drawn towards the heavens to have her spirit rest in peace.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables. New York: The New American

Library of World Literature, Inc, 1961.
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