“Life is made up of marble and mud.”
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

American author Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Massachusetts. He is known for complex psychological works that often have a moral message and supernatural atmosphere. He wrote The House of the Seven Gables in 1850 and, like many of his short stories and novels, it is based in this area of New England. It is a dark, gothic novel that follows the history of an old house and the people who lived there through different generations. In the story, the house was built by Colonel Pyncheon on land stolen from Matthew Maule. Maule was later accused of witchcraft by Pyncheon and executed. Before dying he put a curse on Pyncheon and his family and from that moment on various inexplicable deaths followed.

Hawthorne is interested in showing how the actions of one generation influence the lives of their descendants. The portrait of Colonel Pyncheon hangs in the house to remind the successive generations of his presence and what he did. In this novel, the themes of guilt and revenge are shown, not only through a supernatural tale of witchcraft and magic, but also through the symbol of the house itself which, like the family, is slowly falling apart.

Illustration by ​Giovanni Da Re, taken from The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reading and Training, Step 4 (B2.1)