The House of the Seven Gables

When Rusty Shutters are Forced Open: Hawthorne's Cheery Ending

In an attempt to write a more cheerful novel then his brooding Scarlet Letter during a time when optimism was the one quality shared by all, Hawthorne writes, what critics call today, a contrived ending for his House of Seven Gables. When all seems its darkest, when the past curse points its bloody dagger at the new generation, and all hope has failed, Hawthorne steps in to become his own savior, penning wings for his beloved characters so that they may fly into a fairytale ending. Hawthorne becomes his own Deus ex machina, leaving stardust in his own eyes, and the dry taste of disgust in the mouths of his critics. Why though would Hawthorne do this after the critical success of The Scarlet Letter? In a letter to his publisher, James T. Fields, Hawthorne wrote, "[House of Seven Gables] darkens damnably towards the close, but I shall try hard to pour some setting sunshine over it". This letter shows Hawthorne's conscious choice to force a happy conclusion onto his story. The critics give three reasons to allow for this forced change, 1) Hawthorne's conflict as a writer, 2) the call of the marketplace, and 3) a failed tongue and cheek on the author's part.

During the writing of The House of the Seven Gables,...

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