The House of the Seven Gables

Hepzibah and Phoebe: Vanishing Aristocrat, Emerging American

Ostensibly a tale of the effects of sin and guilt as manifested through successive generations of a New England family, Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is a richly detailed novel with multiple levels of meaning and ambiguities that have prompted a wide array of critical interpretations. Though frequently faulted for its narrative structure or other perceived flaws, The House of the Seven Gables is generally ranked second in importance only to The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne considered it his greatest work"more characteristic" of his mind and "more proper and natural" for him to write than his first novel. Overall, it was a critical success with three themes seeming to attract most of the critic's attention of his century. The three topics were Hawthorne's authentic characters, the powerful setting, and the invigorating yet unsettling theme.

Hawthorne analyzes the delicate traits of human sentiment and character, and opens vistas into that beautiful and unexplored world of love and thought that exists in every human being, though overshadowed by material circumstances. Hawthorne takes evident delight in expanding on types of characters and general traits of life or in bringing into strong...

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