The Analysis of Light and Dark Imagery
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, uses many qualities of symbolism which help develop the novel’s main ideas. Darkness is the emblematic “color” of the Pyncheon’s. Contrasted with its opposite, light, it forms one of the major symbols of the novel: the opposition of dark and light. Hawthorne uses dark imagery throughout his novel to express a sense of decay, but he also uses light imagery to inject hope. Nathaniel Hawthorne in The House of the Seven Gables describes Phoebe as “an illuminating speck of light transforming the darkness of the house like the light of dawn” (92). This description of Phoebe, using light imagery, expresses that she is an innocent woman with an inner spirit to help break the Pyncheon’s curse. Clark Giffith records in Hawthorne’s Imagery: The “Proper Light and Shadow” in the Major Romances that “Phoebe is rather too obviously a little ray of sunshine...” (37). When Phoebe enters the house “from the sunny daylight,” and is almost blinded by the “density of shadows” lurking in the passages of the old house, the contrast between Phoebe’s lighted presence against the dark gloomy house can be seen. The old Pyncheon-elm, which stands over the house, is a symbol of resurrection from the darkness and decay. In Chapter nineteen, “Alice’s Posies,” the Pyncheon elm is suddenly filled with the morning sun in fact, one branch of the elm has been “transmutated to bright gold.” The elm is particularly special at the end of the novel because it was left unharmed after the storm, the rest of the tree is “in perfect verdure,” a symbol of life not of death. The tree has come to symbolize nature and nature’s resurrection, and in a sense this resurrection of nature provides a strong image of hope. Masterpieces of...
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