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The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House of the Seven Gables Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Nathaniel Hawthorne is renowned specifically as an American author. He was one of the first major American writers, along with Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Besides setting the book in Salem, Massachusetts, how does Hawthorne engage with American themes? What vision does he seem to have of the United States?
  2. Hawthorne may have liked The House of the Seven Gables better than The Scarlet Letter, but not many of his fans have agreed with him. In fact, The Scarlet Letter is much more popular. But they both deal with similar themes. So – why? What makes The Scarlet Letter more admired than The House of the Seven Gables?
  3. In his preface to The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne describes his book as a "Romance" rather than a novel, which means that he feels free to put in a lot of legend and speculation. What would the book be like if he had written it as a novel rather than a romance? How would its tone and content change?
  4. While the main theme of The House of the Seven Gables – the presence of the past in the present – remains interesting today, this novel does show some signs of its age, especially in its depiction of women and African Americans. How might The House of the Seven Gables look different if Hawthorne wrote it today? Would his style or tone change?
  5. The House of the Seven Gables often appears to be told from a third-person omniscient perspective, but every now and then the narrator jumps in with an "I" or an "our" to remind us that it's first person. How would the novel be different if it were told from the first-person perspective of one of the central characters? Whose perspective do you think would be most interesting?
  6. Could The House of the Seven Gables be written from the perspective of Judge Pyncheon? How would the themes of the novel change if this were the case?

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