ABSTRACT

The House of the Seven Gables constantly seems, on the surface, to separate settler civilization from North American Nature, from the obsession with cultivating garden space to the fear of moral decay within white American homes and lineages. However, a closer look at the actions and presence of Nature in the novel reveals a complex network of agential beings that are not so controllable or conquerable. I argue that the novel’s spectral conflict is a material conflict between Nature and settler institutions, a conflict that ultimately undermines this binary opposition and reveals the presence and agency of nonhuman Nature in settlers’ lives. Anxieties over the (super)natural presence of ghosts and witchcraft in the novel reflect the reality that beings in the natural environment have massive, invisible influence on settler society despite attempts to erase both Natural spaces and Native presence and relationships to the land.

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