The House of the Seven Gables

Aesthetic Development in Kant and Hawthorne College

Beauty is a part of the human condition; we are attracted to what we find appealing and repelled by what we find unappealing. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scholars captured this concept and put into words what it means to experience beauty. Immanuel Kant, for one, had formed books on this experience, a state of perception that has opened doors to literary criticism consequentially. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, illusions of beauty and aesthetics have been crucial to character development, especially that of Clifford Pyncheon and Holgrave. By applying the concepts of beauty and judgement by Kant to Hawthorne’s characters Clifford and Holgrave, we can use character comparisons to investigate the existence of various levels of aesthetic development.

The Kantian principles regarding beauty and judgement outline an overall step-by-step process. Humans are innately attracted towards something they find beautiful and then cast judgement upon it. This judgement process is the lasting impression that a person would make in establishing, yes, that an object was a thing of beauty: “In order to decide whether or not something is beautiful, we do not relate the representation by means of...

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