Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter words is communicated by the symbols. Even more, all though The House of the Seven Gables he used similar images in the Pynchon women, he explored a forerunner who communicates with future generations through symbols. Alice Pynchon, Phoebe’s great, great, great-aunt, reveals the necessity of an inventive sensibility during the music of her harpsichord or musical instrument and her posies. In The House of the Seven Gables Alice’s posies are linked to the rose cipher in The Scarlet Letter since flowers are a medium by which a previous generation can communicate with the next.
Both novels are slightly related to the women who communicate to their next generations people through signs, the female character of The House of the Seven Gables are more self-possessed in their individual and they convey their message.
Whereas Ann Hutchinson and Hester Prynne passively accepted their punishments to a certain extent, the women of the house of the seven gables boldly resist male oppression.
Alice does not imply her message as Ann Hutchinson does since Alice actively warns Phoebe about the importance of reading symbols. Alice’s symbols are more over Alice’s harpsichord is heard on occasion throughout the house, and her posies bloom when the judge dies. Just as the women of The Scarlet Letter represent feminine reformers, so do the women of The House of the Seven Gables. Alice, perhaps, dies a martyr’s death, Hepzibah does not passively resist male domination, and Phoebe actively changes her own community instead of leaving it, as does Pearl.
What makes The House of the Seven Gables distinct from The Scarlet Letter is how artistic sensibility becomes a major theme of the novel, and Hawthorne exposes this issue when Phoebe learns to read the symbols that represent her ancestor Alice, and, more literally, when she marries an artist. It is only when the audience focuses on Phoebe’s interpretation of her ancestor’s Symbolic language that the reader discovers this hidden message, or warning, in Hawthorne’s novel. American culture had yet to develop an art of its own; therefore, they lacked a national identity.
As American culture became more independent, it would also have to develop for art. Hawthorne stresses this idea through Phoebe’s process of reading symbols. It is identically as important for the characters to understand the meaning of symbols in the narrative as it is for the reader to be cognizant of art’s purpose in American society, in particular, the art of fiction’s function as a means of cultural sophistication. Hawthorne communicates to his audience through his narrators, but what he converses depends on which perspective we consider as readers. When the reader encounters the symbol of the rose, he or she must consider that this symbol is not only directed at his audience, but also at other characters within the narrative. The multiple perceptions of Hawthorne’s narrators and characters will point the reader into his or her own interpretation of Hawthorne’s narratives. Each heroine gains independence by being true to her individualism; therefore, the reader must consider every heroine’s perspective. Each heroine has her part as a reformer of American society in The Scarlet Letter, and this again occurs in The House of the Seven Gables.
The premise of The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter is similar in that both novels are set in a community that is overrun by dominant male figures. Both novels also portray individuals struggling to escape the heavy – handed hold such dominant figures have on repressed individuals within a community. In The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne creates an outlandish display of how a subjugated individual becomes liberated from a sturdy male ancestor through the death of a dominant male figure. Hawthorne makes a strong statement in The House of the Seven Gables about how individuals may gain independence. Judge Pyncheon, the dominant male figure in the novel, bafflingly dies at the end of the novel. The death of the Judge may perhaps have symbolized freedom for a repressed individual, and Hawthorne may have also been symbolically liberating himself from strong male figures within his own community.
Though Hawthorne may seem to be discrediting prominent male ancestors in The House of Seven Gables, since not only creates an obnoxious character, the smiling Judge Pyncheon, but he kills this symbol of the patriarchy, the author may have been using the novel as a intermediate to criticize one of his political opponents while at the same time elevating name of the Hathornes. Hawthorne’s unpleasant characterization of the powerful Judge has much to do, as DeSalvo explains, with a history Charles Wentworth Upham wrote in 1831 about the witchcraft trials in which Upham emphasized John Hathorne’s involvement and concluded that “John Hathorne was largely responsible for the excesses of that period” (82).
Upham explains what Hawthorne was attempting to do in his “assassination” of a tyrannical male figure in the novel, and Hawthorne’s attitude toward Upham seems even more spiteful when the narrator maliciously describes the Judge’s dead corpse and rejoices in the idea that the Judge will be unable to attend his own party that night because he is dead. In Hawthorne’s novel, the narrator not only confirms how overbearing males affected Hawthorne, but more generally, Hawthorne displays how dominant males cause hierarchies to control entire communities. Powerful males were the only figures who held back intact populations, and Hawthorne illustrates to what extent the Judge dominated not only the Pyncheon family but the entire town. Since after the Judge’s death, the Pyncheon family no longer has a place within the community.
Though the remaining Pyncheons move to the Judge’s country home and remain
dependent on Judge’s economic holdings, they have learned to understand the value of self – reliance and progressive ideas since Hepzibah is not inhibited by her family pride and learns the value of self-reliance, Clifford is free from the Judge’s ordeal and finds happiness in the simple pleasures in life, and Phoebe and Holgrave learn the value of art in American culture. Yet, the heroines’ success in this novel can best be measured by what they realize, though they may still indirectly depend on the Judge, Phoebe has learned to understand why an artistic sensibility, such as her partner Holgrave’s, is necessary for the development of an distinctive American culture. Hawthorne produces a parallel situation between his character Phoebe and his reader’s development of an appreciation for art, and compares them to the Pyncheon family’s lack of cultural refinement and America’s lack of refinement. If the reader not pass to understand the message Hawthorne conveys through his character, then they miss to understand the value of Hawthorne’s art.
The first day Hepzibah opens the fragrance shop, she still refuses to accept that American society is becoming more democratic, as Cunliffe argues, when she does not allow Holgrave to pay for a biscuit because she wants to linger “a lady” for as long as she possibly can (HSG 46). Hawthorne perhaps implies that American society during his lifetime held too firmly to traditions. Male characters in The House of the Seven Gables are lost within American society unless they are dominant male figures. According to progressive thinking in the nineteenth – century, America needed to smash from tradition for social progress to occur. Holgrave, we would expect should be aware of his station in life, as an artist; he is capable of making educated observations about the Pyncheon family and is aware that they represent outdated hierarchies that still exist in modern society. The anarchical whim in old Matthew Maule lives on in Holgrave in a more modern guise” (Kehler 148). Holgrave, though he lives in the house of the seven gables, perhaps does maintain enough distance from the Pyncheon reign to allow him to observe the residents of the house and how Judge Pyncheon maintains dominion over his family and the entire town. When Phoebe arrives, however, his involvement becomes more intimate as he takes interest in the young girl. Since Phoebe’s well-being depends on establishing herself within the house, she is subject to the Judge’s rule as long as she lives in the house. Holgrave begins to think of a “home” in a more traditional sagacity when he encounters Phoebe, and by the end of the novel, he is part of the Pyncheon dynasty. Neither traditional nor progressive ideas, furthermore, can precisely depict the idea of progress in American society.
Change had not occurred in the house of the seven gables because its inhabitants accepted the idea that to progress meant the family had to stop believing in the reputation of the Pyncheon family name. Not only do the Pyncheons represent tradition, but, more importantly, as long as they maintained pride in their family name they also represent conformity. Although the novel is set in the nineteenth-century, the Pyncheon family is still bothered by their Puritan ancestors; they have failed to accept progressive ideas of democracy and individualism. With the exception of Phoebe, Hawthorne’s portrayal of the Pyncheon line is anything but flattering. Hepzibah and Clifford are ascetics who do not know how to function in the world, and Judge Pyncheon is an ambitious oppressor just as his male ancestors were. The less powerful inhabitants of the house of the seven gables and the entire community are all controlled by one man. Why the Judge maintains his power has much more to do with the community rather than with the Judge’s overbearing nature.