A Comparison Of The Scarlet Letter And The House Of The Seven Gables

3914 words - 16 pages

A Comparison of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables

 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America's most renowned authors, demonstrates his extraordinary talents in two of his most famed novels, The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. To compare these two books seems bizarre, as their plots are distinctly different. Though the books are quite seemingly different, the central themes and Hawthorne's style are closely related (Carey, p. 62). American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne is most famous for his books THE SCARLET LETTER and THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, which are closely related in theme, the use of symbolism, characterization, and style.

 

The central themes in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables are very similar as they indicate Hawthorne's ideals through writing. Throughout both of these novels, the theme of heart vs. Head is very apparent. In The Scarlet Letter, the heart leads Hester and Dimmesdale to commit an dreadful sin, but the intellect thoroughly damns Chillingworth (Rountree, p. 78). This same theme is easily evident when we recall the characters of Colonel and Jaffrey Pyncheon in The House of the Seven Gables. Not only are these two selfish with what power they already posses, but they are ruthless in obtaining more land and wealth (Crowley, p. 74). In both novels, the theme of heart vs. head played the central plot of each and was also evident in smaller scenes throughout each. During the course of The Scarlet Letter, Hester is developing mind as Dimmesdale is gaining heart (Rountree, p. 91). When Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest, Dimmesdale can at last be true; he can turn completely out of himself as their two hearts are once again unified (Crowley, p. 64). Through the plot development in The House of the Seven Gables, we see a very familiar theme which unifies heart and head. Phoebe is considered to be the heart which warms the house, while Holgrave is the intellectual head. When Phoebe and Holgrave fall in love, heart and head are brought together to form a union that may end the curse forever (Sheldon, p. 16).

 

The obvious and most prevalent theme in both books is the effect of sin. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne's sin was an understandably human one which arose from desire for the simple human bliss open to all mankind. At this point, Roger Chillingworth is capable of remorse and is still able to rejoin the great heart of mankind, but he is led astray into his own sin in which he pries into Dimmesdale's heart, and his latent evil posses him (Rountree, p.89). In The House of the Seven Gables, this theme seems to come through as an inherited curse. Greed drives both Colonel and Jaffrey Pyncheon to encourage the persecution of a less powerful man, and then takes his land or inheritance. This sin is seen as a curse throughout the book as it influences all that the living do (Carey, p. 58).

 

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