American literature reflects life and the struggles faced during existence. Symbols are an eloquent way for an author to create a more fully developed work of art. The stories themselves tell a tale; however, an author also uses symbols to relay his message in a more subtle manner. Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the earliest authors to use symbols as an integral part of his plots. This is clearly seen in both The Scarlet Letter and in The House of the Seven Gables. The use of symbols causes an "association psychology" to enter into the story, making it more intriguing.1 In Nathaniel Hawthorne's romance The House of the Seven Gables, symbolism is used eloquently to enhance the story being told by providing the reader with a deeper insight into the more complicated intentions in the story.
The novel begins by describing the most obvious symbol in the book, being the house itself. The exterior of the house is a "rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst."2 The house is almost organic because of its aura and the vines that cover it.3 It is significant that the house is made from wood because wood is a degradable material. A stone house's beauty grows greater with age, and the interior can be redecorated, but a wooden house without good upkeep can only decay.4 The roof of the house is so rotted that there is mosses and other vegetation growing in between the gables. The house is truly the decaying yet proud spectacle of the neighborhood. Yet, though the house is the spectacle of the neighborhood, it is also the focus of young children's imaginations. This is seen where the firs...
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Harper Collins Publishers, 1989. 388.
Male, Roy R. "Evolution and Regeneration: The House of the Seven Gables." The House of the Seven Gables. ed. Seymour L. Gross. New York:
W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1967. 431-3.
Matthieson, F. O. "Seven Gables." NCLC. ed. Joann Cerrito. Detroit: Gale, 1993. 39: 170.
Simon & Schuster, Inc. "Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Introduction." Monarch Notes. 1 Jan 1963. Electric Library 24 Oct. 1999.
Tuckerman, Henry T. "Seven Gables." NCLC. ed. Joann Cerrito. Detroit: Gale, 1993. 39: 168.
Williams, Susan S. "'The Aspiring Purpose of an Ambitious Demagogue:' Portraiture and The House of the Seven Gables." NCLC. California:
Regents of the University of California, 1994. 49n2: 221(24). Infotrac. 30 Nov. 1999. 7.
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