Mike Houston State University
" In Packet, and Stone, and Old Worm-Eaten Timber”:
Prison in Hawthorne's The House of the Several Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Several Gables can be described as picturesque tale which weaves together symbols of both the light and the dark. It truly is this darkness, which one vit refers to as a " sombre coloring” (Anonymous, 1851), that provides the reader using a greater knowledge of the depth of the tale, the passion of its heroes and the richness of it is themes. After all, without the dark areas, one can under no circumstances truly know the light.
The house alone, set by Hawthorne in a town in Massachusetts very well after the locally-repressed memories of witchery and hangings, is an unforgotten representation of sin and darkness. One could easily declare the house is a symbol of a sort of penitentiary for the Pyncheons who also must live their phrases behind the great walls for familial sins of the past. Actually Hawthorne him self makes this meaning repeatedly through the story.
In 1831 and 1832, both Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville of Portugal toured numerous prisons in the United States searching for ideas for reformation of their own prison system. From their detailed research of exploring the American Prisons' skin cells, workshops, chapels, and yards they located what they believed to be the most important and crucial technique for inmate rehabilitation:
Thrown in solitude this individual reflects. Placed alone, in view of his crime, he discovers to hate it; of course, if his spirit be not surfeited with crime, and thus have lost almost all taste to get anything better, it is in solitude, where sorrow will come to assail him.
As a result, the Frenchmen conclude that the isolation of the criminal (a combination of solitude within skin cells and peace and quiet while operating near additional inmates) might encourage prisoners to " meditate issues fallen ways” (Levine, 309)—much like the cursed Pyncheons have to put up with living their lives beneath the shadow of their former sins. Interestingly, it truly is worth noting that Clifford, introduced in to the tale because " the thirty years prisoner” (20), was likely to include spent his sentence in a Boston prison—which at this time followed this seclusion technique.
It is reasonable to conclude which the isolation of Clifford as well as the rest of the Pyncheons living with him in the house will not, in the end, result in their rehab, likely because none of those were truly guilty of any kind of great criminal offense. Instead, Hawthorne uses the death of Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, (who seems to be the reincarnation in the greedy Colonel Pyncheon who the actual sense of guilt belongs, ) to " rehabilitate” the Pyncheons and remedy the family problem.
This paper can explore examples from The Property of the Several Gables that show Hawthorne's usage of jail allusions, via Clifford's time spent behind bars to the home itself like a prison. It will also attempt to specify why he chose to work with these examples as what one college student considers to become an " apt metaphor for U. S. society” (Bumas, 125).
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The initially reference to prisons that Hawthorne uses show up in his information of Hebzibah, who is Released as " a gaunt, sallow, rusty-jointed maiden, within a long-waisted silk-gown, and with the peculiar horror of a turban onto her head” (32). Similar to Tocqueville's ideas talked about above, this kind of character continues to be subjected to long lasting isolation via society within the gothic wall space of the house in the seven gables. Hawthorne creates:
Hebzibah, even though she got her beneficial and redeeming traits, got grown to be a sort of lunatic, by imprisoning very little so long in one place, without other organization than a solitary series of suggestions, and although one devotion, and a single bitter sense of incorrect. (124)
Hawthorne also identifies one of the effects of this isolation when he produces how the lady tends to suppress the minute amount of delight that your woman periodically experiences. In one case, Hepzibah is definitely...