Inner Truths in The House of the Seven Gables

Inner Truths in The House of the Seven Gables

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Inner Truths in The House of the Seven Gables  

 

It was Hawthorne’s belief that romances deal with inner truths, while novels are based on "mere fact."  Because he held himself to be a romance writer, inner truths were elemental themes in The House of the Seven Gables. The truths that he conceived, and expressed, in the story range from the concept that death and suffering do not discriminate based on one’s position in society to the karmic effects one generation may have on those of future generations. Hawthorne saw these themes as important concepts that went beyond simple didactic commentaries. As a romance writer he wanted his reader to understand his conceptions on a complete level, and to achieve this he realized that he must delve into an unusual space in the reader's mind. The supernatural plays an important role in this goal in The House of the Seven Gables. The Supernatural challenges the reader to use her imagination and step out of her usual stereotypes and beliefs so that she may observe the story as Hawthorne wrote it. This challenge is meant to help the reader grasp Hawthorne’s conceptions.

Maule’s curse at the gallows is the beginning of the development for one of Hawthorne’s central themes: guilt will stay for generations. In regards to this "karmic" theme, Maule’s curse, a supernatural power, foreshadows the future of the Pyncheon family. Maule insists, "God will give him blood to drink!" and as we read on it appears that this portion of the curse does indeed come to pass.

But the effects of the curse do not end there. As men began to build the Pyncheon home on Maule’s land, the famous spring water on the property "entirely lost the deliciousness of its pristine quality." The land that Colonel Pyncheon intended to have for his family immediately started losing its value as the "pristine" well became foul. As the story goes on it, becomes clear that the curse will similarly effect the Pyncheon family, making what once was rich very poor.

Maule’s supernatural power is further developed with the use of ghosts. The use of these spirits implies that all inhabitants of the house are in a state of unrest. Although Colonel Pyncheon was the one to commit the sin against Maule, all his relatives will pay for the deed. Alice Pyncheon was said "to haunt the House of the Seven Gables and.

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..she had been heard playing sadly and beautifully on the harpsichord" (75). Further in the story, "...the ghosts of departed cookmaids looked wonderingly on, or peeped down the great breadth of the flue" in the kitchen. It was perhaps Hawthorne’s goal to show how the curse had effected all the past and present inhabitants of the house. The dead could never leave and the living could never escape the dead. The supernatural was the most expressive way to show the consequences of the past.

The ghost motif displays itself again when Clifford, a Pyncheon man with a tortured past, arrives at the house. When Clifford returns to the seven gabled mansion he is returning form a lie of unfair punishment. He has finely paid the debt for a crime in which he was framed and falsely accused. His mind s beaten and worn down. Before he is introduced to the reader it is suggested that the house is being haunted. extra footsteps and other such paranormal occurrences take place. For example, while sitting with Hepzibah at night, Phoebe "with almost the effect of a spiritual medium, [felt] that somebody was near at hand." At night, the reader hears, "through the thin fail of a dream, [Phoebe] was conscious of a footstep mounting the stair." Hawthorne, by showing the metaphysical effect Clifford has had on the house, is teaching the reader that his suffering has had a mystical effect on his spirit. As a result he effects others around him.

Maule’s curse could be considered the materialization of the Hawthorne’s belief in the punishment that future generations face in light of past mistakes. In this capacity, all the manifestations of the curse are key to the development of Hawthorne’s inner truth. Clifford’s proclamation that his home was "rendered poisonous by his defunct forefathers and relatives" is testament to the heavy blanket of guilt that fell over the house. It is confirmation on Hawthorne’s claim.

Supernatural forces are found in a variety of different forms in the House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne applied such devices to the story so that he could completely develop his views on the inner truths that dictate life. The curse, its effects on the house and inhabitants, and the presence of ghosts show that although the original crime in the story took place one hundred and sixty years earlier, the current occupants of the house must deal with the crime’s consequences.

This theme exemplifies another of Hawthorne’s innovations. By showing that the Pyncheons, once a highly respectable family, can duffer from hauntings and emotional and economic and social unrest, Hawthorne expresses that discomfort and pain are not limited to those without position or power.

Hawthorne was insistent upon his development of romance writing. He touched upon concepts that dictate human life. The karmic effect of evil within a family and the equality in which suffering reaches the human race were both addressed in Hawthorne’s creation, The House of the Seven Gables. In order to accentuate these two themes Hawthorne used the supernatural. This motif was used to affect the reader and force her to employ her senses so that she may truly understand Hawthorne’s themes.
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