The manifestation of death in Nathaniel Hawthorne's gothic fiction [abstract]
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Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most popular authors of American literature during the 19th century. My research then investigates how Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Alice Doane's Appeal” as well as “The House of Seven Gables” engage with the gothic genre in each narrative's death scenes. The gothic genre briefly includes themes of the supernatural, witchcraft, and often responds to social anxieties during the time period. I also compare and contrast the sense of history that arises in each narrative and how history impacts death in each narrative. My research determines how do the narrators respond to death and why use the gothic genre as a technique for invoking death? In my research, I explore the question can the texts be seen as preferring history over popular gothic fiction? Since most critics classify “Alice Doane's Appeal” as an early failure whereas critics classify the “House of Seven Gables” as a success after the publication of his renowned “Scarlet Letter,” my research questions whether each narrative embraces the same philosophy concerning the power of gothic fiction. To historicize the time period, I additionally examine the concept of mourning after death in the two works. Then, I relate the character's mourning to the drastic change that occurs during the 19th century concerning mourning. Since “Alice Doane's Appeal” presents a more emotional response to death than “The House of Seven Gables'” puritanical death scenes, how does that unify or separate the two narratives? I ultimately argue that although both narratives possess gothic elements during the death scenes, “The House of Seven Gables” does not preference history over the gothic genre like in “Alice Doane's Appeal.” In “Alice Doane's Appeal,” only the true history of the Salem Witchcraft trials rather than the gothic story within the story invokes an emotional response from the two women listeners.