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Choisya
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Re: Mysteries



LizzieAnn wrote:
What is the Judge really up to? Why does he appear so genial and kind in person, and yet his daguerreotype shows a hard and cold man?


I have been fascinated by the 'Jekyll and Hyde' character sketches of all the main characters so far, except 'Angel of the Hearth' Phoebe, who remains sweetness and light. I thought first of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel and then of Oscar Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray' but then recalled that HOTSG preceded both of these by several years. I wonder if this was a fashionable theme in literature during this century and what tradition Hawthorne was drawing upon? Writers of this period frequently drew upon Greek and/or Biblical references. Any ideas?
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Choisya
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Re: Phoebe



Laurel wrote:
A phoebe, of course, is a perky little bird, one of the first to arrive in New England in the spring and last to leave in the fall.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/BOW/EASPHO/

The recording on that page didn't work for me, but this one did:

http://www.enature.com/partners/nwf/showSpeciesLG_nwf.asp?showType=4&rgnID=1599&curGroupID=1&curPageNum=164&recnum=BD0286

There was also a Titan named Phoebe, associated with the moon, and there is a Phoebe in the New Testament (Romans 16:1- 2), commended by Paul for her good works as a deaconness. The name is Greek and means "shining, pure." That's our girl! You just know that she is going to do some good in this old haunted house!





There is a beautiful paragraph comparing Phoebe to a bird in Chapter 5 'May and November': 'Whatever she did do was done without conscious effort and with frequent outbreaks of song which were exceedingly pleasant to the ear. This natural tunefulness made Phoebe seem like a bird in a shadowy tree; or conveyed the idea that the stream of life warbled through her heart as a brook sometimes warbles through a pleasant little dell.'
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Mysteries


Choisya wrote:


LizzieAnn wrote:
What is the Judge really up to? Why does he appear so genial and kind in person, and yet his daguerreotype shows a hard and cold man?


I have been fascinated by the 'Jekyll and Hyde' character sketches of all the main characters so far, except 'Angel of the Hearth' Phoebe, who remains sweetness and light. I thought first of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel and then of Oscar Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray' but then recalled that HOTSG preceded both of these by several years. I wonder if this was a fashionable theme in literature during this century and what tradition Hawthorne was drawing upon? Writers of this period frequently drew upon Greek and/or Biblical references. Any ideas?





Choisya, I like the comparison with Dorian Gray. Perhaps the Judge's daguerreotype shows his true self and not the face he shows to the world. The fact that Holgrave seems to place emphasis on the difference between the Judge's face and portrait leads me to think that there is something to this - at the very least, that there's something about the judge that isn't easily seen. :smileyhappy: There's probably a Twilight Zone episode somewhere that's a take on this.
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Laurel
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Re: Mysteries


Choisya wrote:


I have been fascinated by the 'Jekyll and Hyde' character sketches of all the main characters so far, except 'Angel of the Hearth' Phoebe, who remains sweetness and light. I thought first of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel and then of Oscar Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray' but then recalled that HOTSG preceded both of these by several years. I wonder if this was a fashionable theme in literature during this century and what tradition Hawthorne was drawing upon? Writers of this period frequently drew upon Greek and/or Biblical references. Any ideas?





I think they were probably drawing on a biblical view of human nature--that man is a frustrating combination of good and evil. I thought of Dorian Gray, too, because of the way Hawthorne is using portraits in this book.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Laurel
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Re: Phoebe


Choisya wrote:


br>There is a beautiful paragraph comparing Phoebe to a bird in Chapter 5 'May and November': 'Whatever she did do was done without conscious effort and with frequent outbreaks of song which were exceedingly pleasant to the ear. This natural tunefulness made Phoebe seem like a bird in a shadowy tree; or conveyed the idea that the stream of life warbled through her heart as a brook sometimes warbles through a pleasant little dell.'




That's lovely, isn't it?
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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bup
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Re: Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables

I read this book a few months ago, and I think I'll lurk in this thread. I don't have a lot great to say about the book, honestly...I was very disappointed in the ending, and the writing style is much too self-conscious for my taste. I *tried* to like it, and *wanted* to like it - I can forgive some self-conscious writing (liked 'Moby Dick,' for instance), but this...meh.

Having said that, the wikipedia article on HOTSG is woefully lacking, and it's much too important a book to leave in that state. So I think I'll see what other people like about it and put it in the article.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Mysteries

I think I have the answer to Laurel's number 7: the theft of Matthew Maul's legacy to build this house of guilt and mystery. It's all witchcraft, I tell you.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Mysteries

You're both onto something--one of Hawthorne's favorite images was of the bifurcated heart, the perverseness of good people--something that Poe would find out in his own way. I also liked your comparison to Wilde--Hawthorne loved portraits, as we're all finding out, and art as a way of getting at the deeper, truer self.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables

You'll be doing all of the world a favor--we have a great head start here.
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Choisya
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Re: Hawthorne's writing style.

[ Edited ]

bup wrote:
I read this book a few months ago, and I think I'll lurk in this thread. I don't have a lot great to say about the book, honestly...I was very disappointed in the ending, and the writing style is much too self-conscious for my taste. I *tried* to like it, and *wanted* to like it - I can forgive some self-conscious writing (liked 'Moby Dick,' for instance), but this...meh.

Having said that, the wikipedia article on HOTSG is woefully lacking, and it's much too important a book to leave in that state. So I think I'll see what other people like about it and put it in the article.





I love the writing style and the many unusual words Hawthorne uses. It is the first American book of this period that I have read and I found it very enthralling. The Chapter 'Governor Pyncheon' was a tour de force and held its mystery until the very end.

The Wikipedia entry seems to be about the house and not about the book. There is another entry for Nathanial Hawthorne.

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-16-200612:34 AM

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Choisya
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Re: Mysteries



fanuzzir wrote:
You're both onto something--one of Hawthorne's favorite images was of the bifurcated heart, the perverseness of good people--something that Poe would find out in his own way. I also liked your comparison to Wilde--Hawthorne loved portraits, as we're all finding out, and art as a way of getting at the deeper, truer self.





There is so much that reminds me of Wilde and Dorian Gray in the book that I wonder whether Wilde read HOTSG and lifted the idea of the DG portrait from it?
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Choisya
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism

Holgrave's potted biography of himself to Phoebe in The Daguerrotypist includes some references to him having been a Mesmerist. The description seems to chart the life of Mesmer himself, who found fame in Paris before being denounced as a charlatan, mainly because of fears that women who became hynotised might be vulnerable to the hynotist's sexual advances. Charles Dickens dabbled in mesmerism too. He learned it from a doctor at London's University College Hospital who experimented with mesmerism as an alternative to anaesthesia. There are several references to hynotic states and trances in Oliver Twist and in Dombey and Son. Dickens was known to practice mesmerism on his wife and other female acquaintances in an attempt to cure them of certain illnesses. There was a great fascination with this subject at the time Hawthorne was writing HOTSG.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Mysteries



Choisya wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
You're both onto something--one of Hawthorne's favorite images was of the bifurcated heart, the perverseness of good people--something that Poe would find out in his own way. I also liked your comparison to Wilde--Hawthorne loved portraits, as we're all finding out, and art as a way of getting at the deeper, truer self.





There is so much that reminds me of Wilde and Dorian Gray in the book that I wonder whether Wilde read HOTSG and lifted the idea of the DG portrait from it?




An interesting thought. The portrait in The House of Seven Gables has such a hold over the family, much like Wilde's portrait had over Dorian Gray.
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Laurel
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism

It's really interesting that he was able to hypnotize a chicken!
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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LizzieAnn
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Middle Chapters (8-14)

I found these middle chapters to be a mixture of questions and details.

That Judge Pyncheon is up to no good is becoming more and more obvious. His Jekyll & Hyde persona is re-enforced. Is the implication that he is Colonel Pyncheon reincarnated? He seems to be like him so much not only in looks but in character, and both are Machiavellian in character. The judge seems too centered on Clifford, that I cannot help but wonder why. It's not cousinly concern, and I'm worried about Clifford. Even Phoebe can sense something and backs away from him, much like you'd back away from a rattlesnake.

Phoebe's positive influence on Hepzibah and on Clifford, particularly, becomes more noticeable. Clifford's descent into childhood is sad, and the Sunday afternoon get-togethers seem to be a bright spot for all who attend. His reactions to the organ grinder's monkey, attending church, and to the parade are conflicting. He sees the ugliness of the monkey - what it represents as the ugliness of men's souls. His attempts to attend church and join the parade seem symbolic of his re-joining the human race. But he stops himself from entering church, deeming himself less than human, less than good, and less than worthy. He's stopped from joining the parade due to the fact that he wanted to jump out the window to do so. Yet, the implication is that his joining the parade would have been good for him.

A change in Phoebe is also occurring - she's maturing and is not longer the same naive young girl. She is seeing the world around her and pondering it. She is leaving girlhood behind her and is approaching life differently. The sadness of her companions and the house are affecting her some, and she no longer sees the world through "rose-colored" glasses. She is, necessarily, growing up.

We also learn about Holgrave, although a lot is still unknown. He's younger than I had thought (about 22) and has a very varied background. He's had little formal schooling and yet has been a teacher, a salesman, an official, a writer, and a daguerreotypist. He's also practiced dentistry and is familiar with mesmerism. He also has an unexplained and unnatural interest in Clifford. Even Phoebe wonders about it. As she says to Holgrave in Chapter 14, "And let me tell you frankly, Mr. Holgrave, I am sometimes puzzled to know whether you wish them well or ill." Honestly, I feel as Phoebe does. But Holgrave is also suspicious of the Judge and his attitude toward Clifford, as he tells Phoebe.

The details of the story of Alice Pyncheon are very unnerving. I was glad to see that Matthew Maule felt the guilt and responsibility of what he had done to Alice and being the means which lead to her death. The fact that Holgrave and Maule have the same power is a little unsettling. Perhaps it is, as the narrator implies, integrity and esteem of individuality that keep Holgrave from leading Phoebe down the same path that Matthew led Alice. Or perhaps it is knowing that he couldn't live with the guilt that Matthew seems to have experienced that keeps him from binding Phoebe to him. It does make me wonder what happened to Matthew after Alice's death. We can now ascribe two Pyncheon deaths to the Maule family over land.

In Chapter 13, we also learn why earlier Hepzibah told Clifford that she couldn't take down the Colonel's portrait. Family legend states that if the portrait is removed, the house would immediately collapse.

I also like how Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players" from As You Like it comes into the story. In Chapter 14, Phoebe accuses Holgrave of having this sentiment. "You talk as if this old house were a theater; and you seem to look at Hepzibah's and Clifford's misfortunes, and those of generations before them,as a tragedy, ... to be played exclusively for your amusement...The play costs the performers too much and the audience is too coldhearted." He then proceeds with his suspicions of the Judge and continues...."I cannot help fancying that Destiny is arranging its fifth act for a catastrophe."
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Laurel
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Re: Middle Chapters (8-14)

Great thoughts, Lizzie Ann! I really enjoyed reading them. I'm nearing the end of chapter 14 now, and all the puzzling things that have popped up certainly make me want to keep reading.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: Hepzibah



LizzieAnn wrote:
Hepzibah seems a sad character, one who's endured a hard life and has dried up from the lack of light and companionship. Hopefully with the entrance of Phoebe and the reappearance of Clifford, she'll find some brightness in her life and lose her perpetual scowl.



Laurel wrote:
I can't help but like poor old dried up old Hepzibah, and I have hope for her. For one thing, her name is from the Old Testament and means "my delight is in her." It is used twice in the Bible, once in naming the wife of King Hezekiah and mother of Manasseh (1 Kings 21:1) and, more significantly, in a prophecy about Israel:

"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." (Isa 62:4)

The name may sound ugly to us, but it was beautiful in its day.

(The only other Hepzibah I can think of is the foundling girl whom Silas Marner named after his mother, but who was mercifully called "Eppie." "Silas Marner" was published ten years after THSG, though.)





We could go on forever about Hepzibah. She is both infuriating and pitiable, deluded and insightful, present-minded and hopelessly nostalgic. Does anyone know exactly what she is thinking when she looks at the portrait? Hawthorne seems to love the scowl and hate it at the same time.
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fanuzzir
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Re: What's in a name?



Choisya wrote:


LizzieAnn wrote:
Hepzibah seems a sad character, one who's endured a hard life and has dried up from the lack of light and companionship. Hopefully with the entrance of Phoebe and the reappearance of Clifford, she'll find some brightness in her life and lose her perpetual scowl.



Laurel wrote:
I can't help but like poor old dried up old Hepzibah, and I have hope for her. For one thing, her name is from the Old Testament and means "my delight is in her." It is used twice in the Bible, once in naming the wife of King Hezekiah and mother of Manasseh (1 Kings 21:1) and, more significantly, in a prophecy about Israel:

"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." (Isa 62:4)

The name may sound ugly to us, but it was beautiful in its day.

(The only other Hepzibah I can think of is the foundling girl whom Silas Marner named after his mother, but who was mercifully called "Eppie." "Silas Marner" was published ten years after THSG, though.)








I have hope for Hepzibah too Lizzie Ann and more so now that I have read the biblical quote you cited.

Someone has mentioned that Phoebe's name heralds Spring and in Greek mythology she was the Titan goddess of the Oracle of Delphi and the goddess of bright (phoibos) intellect. The Delphic Oracle was associated with the rites of ritual purification and Phoebe's cleaning and brightening up of the HOTSG seems to indicate that this was what was in Hawthorne's mind when he named this character.


Yes Phoebe is there to bring life to the house but I hope she doesn't waste her time with Holgrave. I don't have any faith in Hawthorne's male romantic protagonists, having read "Rappacini's Daughter" long ago as well as "The Birthmark." And I don't trust mesmerists.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Phoebe

Hawthorne also calls her the epitome of plebianism--whatever that means. I find him so ambivalent about the loss of gentrified values like those of Hepzibah and the arrival of modern life. Only Phoebe could make the end of an era seem so refreshing!
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fanuzzir
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism

You're too much. Yes, he got the chicken to walk around the stage like a chicken.
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