The House of the Seven Gables
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The House of the Seven Gables is based on a true story taking into account the participation of Hawthorne's ancestors in the Salem Witch Trials. The supernatural in the novel allows to broaden the boundaries of reader’s imagination in order to conceive the hidden truth comprehensively. The plot concentrates around the crime committed hundreds of years ago but still affecting each generation of Pyncheons. Nathaniel Hawthorne highlights how far the ripples of any action go. No matter what there will always be consequences.
The novel starts with Colonel Pyncheon’s claims to the proprietorship of the lands that were originally occupied by Matthew Maule. Pursuing his goals Colonel played his part in general cry, which led to the old man’s execution for the crime of witchcraft. A few moments before his death a curse was pronounced upon Colonel, “God will give him blood to drink”. Nonetheless, the whole situation played into Pyncheon’s hands, and very soon Maule’s lands easily came in his possession. He decided to erect a family mansion there. The odd thing is that Maule’s son became the architect of the House of the Seven Gables. Nevertheless, it seemed even natur was against it and therefore the pure spring of water turned spoilt and brackish. Overall the value of the seized lands that supposed to be pristine has quickly turned out to be depreciated.
During the ceremony dedicated to the completion of the building, Colonel Pyncheon was found dead in his new house. This incident provoked a lot of the village gossips. The Maule’s prophecy came true just the way the old man foretold. Nonetheless Colonel was not the last to suffer as the curse lied upon the whole generation. Once in a while there were Pyncheons, whose resemblance with Colonel was not only in outward appearance, but also in the same traits of the character. This similarity could be traced through the comparison of the Colonel’s portrait and the daguerreotype of Judge Pyncheon. He even found his death the same way.
The important thing about the portrait is that it has changed dramatically over the years. The colors have been rubbed off and darkened, as if they revealed the true nature of the human soul. It is ironic how behind his deterrent expression a secret of the whole story was kept. The document, which agitated the minds of many Pyncheons, was near all the time hidden behind the portrait of the Colonel.
A specific role in the novel is being played by the ghosts. Occasional noises, footsteps, sad sound of the harpsichord, and other paranormal activity are beyond doubt the indicators of the house being haunted. The souls of the ancestors, who could not find their piece wandered and horrified the living. By means of using the supernatural in this case, Hawthorne tried to emphasize the interrelation of the sin and guilt. The heaviness and burden of the curse lies on the shoulders of each Pyncheon and is evidently the punishment for the past mistakes.
However, Nathaniel Hawthorne believed in atonement. The truth was finally revealed. Falsely accused Clifford had served his sentence but eventually turned out to be innocent. Justice was restored. As a result of the Judge’s decease Maule had his revenge. The supernatural accompanies the whole story highlighting the main theme of the consequences of the crime. The curse has affected the lives of Pyncheons in many ways. The house did not become the happy family mansion, but a bit of a prison over the unquiet grave. Nevertheless, the fault was redeemed and the last Pyncheons were able to escape from the isolation of the House of the Seven Gables.