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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pages Read Verification (1/14/16)

I have currently read 192 out of 500 pages required for my reading minimum. I am currently on page 192 (Chapter 13) of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, which contains 330 pages total. To make up for the missing pages, I'm also going to read Tennessee Williams' play, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, which is 208 pages total. After everything's been read, I will have a total page count of 538, which is well over the minimum but the best I could do in staying around the ballpark of 500 pages.

The House of the Seven Gables - 330 total pages
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof  - 208 total pages
Current bookmark: pg. 192 in The House of the Seven Gables

Close-Reading Passage 2: The House of the Seven Gables

"He needed a shock; or perhaps he required to take a deep, deep plunge into the ocean of human life, and to sink down and be covered by its profoundness, and then to emerge, sobered, invigorated, restored to the world and himself. Perhaps, again, he required nothing less than the great final remedy - death" (Hawthorne 170)!

     This passage from the novel is pretty beautiful and insightful in its choice of language and its effect on the reader. Hawthorne measures his diction carefully as to pack a heavy emotional and intellectual punch with this passage. By depicting life through a grandiloquent metaphor and using deliberate, descriptive diction, Hawthorne conveys a meaningful, weighty lesson about how it feels to be truly alive and inspired.
     Prior to this passage's appearance in the novel, Clifford and Phoebe had been relaxing by the House's arched window and watching people go by. Clifford then gets a tad emotional and contemplates jumping out of the arched window, which is when this passage occurs. What Clifford's saying, in simpler terms, is that he needs to face death or have a near-death experience to truly feel alive. This statement is presented to the reader as somewhat of an extended metaphor, comparing life to an ocean - an ocean that he wants to swallow him alive as to refresh his state of being. He wants life to feel like it has meaning again, for life without meaning as akin to living just to breathe.
    In addition to this clever metaphor intertwined within the syntax, Hawthorne arranges his precise, descriptive diction. Hawthorne uses verbs like "plunge" and "emerge" to create an image of being enveloped by something completely. He also uses powerful adjectives such as "sobered", "invigorated", and "restored" to create a certain sense of being awake and aware of one's own existence. It's as if Hawthorne is crafting his language as such to get his honest point across without having to elaborate any further. Through the use of these vivid words, Hawthorne captures a sense of ultimate awareness and spiritual refreshment.
     This passage's impact is metaphorically an intellectual punch in the face. Hawthorne sticks this insightful outlook on being alive in the novel to in a way signal a kind of verisimilitude, for it is very much a deep, true fact about life. If one has no appreciation for life and being aware of existence, then there is no true point in living. In death, or fear of it, one can find themselves invigorated and more appreciative of life itself. Hawthorne crafts this passage not only to make a point to the characters in the novel, but to also make a point to the audience, with precise and vivid diction as well as the oceanic metaphor.

Word Count: 400

Journal Entry 1/14/16: The House of the Seven Gables

"The truth is as I say! Furthermore, the original perpetrator and father of this mischief appears to have perpetuated himself, and still walks the street - at least, his very image, in mind and body - with the fairest prospect of transmitting to posterity as rich and as wretched an inheritance as he received! Do you remember the daguerreotype, and its resemblance to the old portrait" (Hawthorne 190)?

     Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is a novel centered around family tradition and age-old superstition. Through time, it appears that the current generation closely resembles its golden ancestor, at least in one case. Just like Phoebe in the novel, people might not catch or be taken off-guard by the quote above from Holgrave, the daguerreotypist, who has remained an omniscient friend to the ancestral Pyncheon family. In reality, Holgrave is comparing the greed of a current family descendant to the greed of the family's grand ancestor. 
     In the current family generation, most seem to greatly differ from their grand ancestor. However, Judge Pyncheon seems to have fallen into his greed and pride, just as the first Pyncheon descendant. Holgrave is telling Phoebe that the Judge is just a reflection of the of the grand, greedy ancestor. It was because of him the House was cursed, and it's because of the Judge the family name remains cursed. Judge Pyncheon buries himself in his inheritance, ignorant of his House's rot. Evidence is clear of Holgrave's comparison when he compares his daguerreotype of the Judge to the antique painting of the grand ancestor. The Judge robs while the House sobs. 

Word Count: 200

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Theme Exploration 1: The House of the Seven Gables

     Ever have an ancient story or tradition passed down through family? People might even treat you differently because of your family name or legacy. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The House of the Seven Gables, the reader is introduced to one family with a cursed name, recounting every previous generation as far back as the first ancestor. This novel not only revolves around family and superstitious tradition but also the most practical and mature way of facing it. People are going to have their superstitious stories about a certain group or family, but the reality is that there's nothing really to do about it. Once someone's long gone, there's nothing that someone can do to change that. The main theme behind this novel is that people can slander a person's name, but there's nothing that person can do but accept and deal with it.
     To recap, the story centers around the Pyncheons, a family cursed in the beginning by a revenge-seeking wizard. Since then, only superstitious gossip has surrounded the House and all Pyncheon descendants. Each of the descendants currently living in Hawthorne's work represent the effects of what this superstition can do to a person. Hepzibah hasn't left the House in years and has fallen into a gloomy, emotional decay, just as the House itself has physically. She, like the House, has been wrecked by superstitious gossip and time's effect on it. Phoebe, the youngest descendant, is extremely upbeat and revitalizing, as she was isolated from the House and its gossip for all of her life prior to the novel's events. Clifford, the liberated convict, is much like Phoebe in terms of innocence. However, he grew up with the same superstitious influence, molding his rough exterior and damaged intelligence. Judge Pyncehon represents the positive outcome of gossip. He used his famous name to build a reputation instead of rot with the House. He escaped from the rumors, which the House itself appears to represent, as it only crumbles with time. The strongest evidence connecting the theme to these symbols would be the daguerreotypist's intellectual comment, "we must be dead ourselves before we can begin before we can begin to have proper influence which will then be . . . the world of another generation, which we have no shadow of a right to interfere" (Hawthorne 188). The daguerreotypist, an omniscient resident in the House, presents his realistic, unique viewpoint. Sometimes it takes an outside, non-biased source to discover the truth of the matter.
     Hawthorne's novel is a perfect example of how to maturely handle superstition and gossip. Pay no attention, for it doesn't matter and will only do harm.

Word Count: 400 (minus passage citation)