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What are some of the characteristics of Romanticism found in The House of the Seven...

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littledramaqueen | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:51 PM via web

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What are some of the characteristics of Romanticism found in The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:04 PM (Answer #1)

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The Romantics were fascinated by connections between the past and present, and The House of the Seven Gables revolves around history as a central plot device. The curse that Matthew Maule pronounces on Colonel Pyncheon is, arguably, passed down through the generations. According to one line of thinking, they inherited the sins of their ancestor. Struggling against forces that are beyond one's control is a frequent Romantic theme.

The curse itself reflects the Romantics' interest in the supernatural, as well as the macabre. Indeed, The House of the Seven Gables is essentially a "Gothic Romance," a genre that delights in horror. The House with the Seven Gables, we see throughout, has seen its share of horror and allegedly supernatural goings-on, including murders, violent deaths reminiscent of Maule's curse that Pyncheon would "drink blood," bewitched fountains, and the supposed mesmerization of Alice Gervayse.

Finally, throughout the book, Hawthorne uses imagery of light and dark, as well as blood reds and nature to give the house a forbidding feel. This is very typical of Romantic literature as well as art, especially the Gothic romances. Literary critic Richard Harter Fogle argues that light (and sunshine) are used to represent "general good fortune, for material prosperity, and for harmonious kinship with society" while dark (and stormy imagery) connote "misfortune and the isolation of the original Pyncheon sin."

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