ABSTRACT

This essay analyzes the pervasive presence of Christian motifs in The House of the Seven Gables, arguing that the most useful term to describe the author’s religious agenda in the novel is Christian moralism. While previous critics have noticed some of the religious and allegorical features of the narrative, none have provided an overarching explanation for their overall significance. A series of overt and covert biblical allusions thus provides a basis for key scenes and characterizations in the narrative, as the Pyncheon patriarchs, Colonel and Judge, are symbolically damned for their murderous hubris, while the inhabitants of the Pyncheon family mansion are eventually rewarded for their moral virtues of submission (Hepzibah, Clifford), love and charity (Phoebe), and forgiveness of injuries (Holgrave). Tracing the evidence of Christian moralism in The House of the Seven Gables enhances the reader’s appreciation of Hawthorne’s artistry in incorporating religious themes and motifs into his fiction without giving them overtly tendentious purposes.

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