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

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

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


In Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The House of the Seven Gables, the present is haunted by events of the past; the past actually becomes a curse upon present individuals in this narrative, because it influences their lives. Through the symbols, the actual House of the Seven Gables and the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon, Nathaniel Hawthorne provides sufficient detail to prove his theme - past events, frequently influence the lives of present individuals. The transformed characters, in the end, abandon the symbols of ages long past and effectively abandon the curse of the past in their lives.

The actual House of the Seven Gables symbolizes the weight of the past, firstly because the house is actually cursed by an ancient plebeian accused of witchcraft. From the very beginning, neighbors say Colonel Pyncheon builds the house "on an unquite grave" and it indeed has a "bad air" (14). The Colonel constructs his house upon the very spot of the small hut of Matthew Maule, the one accused of sorcery; actively contributing to the ruin of the wizard, the society in which the Colonel lives regards him as less than impeccable. Maule addresses Colonel Pyncheon as he dies on the scaffold to iterate the curse that would haunt his lineage for generations: "God. . . God will give him blood to drink!" (14). The house becomes a symbol of the curse, and the Colonel, by building where he did, seems to give Maule "the privilege to haunt . . . the chambers into which future bridegrooms were to lead their brides, and where future children of the Pyncheon blood were to be born" (14). The curse of the past affects all members of the present Pyncheon household, and the Maules keep th...


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The present Pyncheons and Maules quit the house and the portrait to take up residence in the country home of Judge Pyncheon, thus signifying an escape from the bondage of the past. The house, with its reminiscent decorations, architecture, memories, and dreams is put behind the present Pyncheons along with the portrait of the "evil genius" of the family that suggests secret wealth and his eternal presence (101). The good Pyncheons abandon the embodiment of the past that has curse their lives for so long; they leave the past for life in the present, and this abandonment proposes new life, prosperity, and future, things unthinkable under the influence of the embodied past which is the curse of the House of the Seven Gables and of the Portrait of Colonel Pyncheon.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of Seven Gables. New York: Penguin, 1961.

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