The House of the Seven Gables
Important Quotations Explained
. . . hinted that he was about to build his house over an unquiet
grave. . . . The terror and ugliness of Maule’s crime, and the wretchedness
of his punishment, would darken the freshly plastered walls, and
infect them early with the scent of an old and melancholy house.
being, made only for happiness, and heretofore so miserably failing
to be happy . . . this poor, forlorn voyager from the Islands of
the Blest, in a frail bark, on a tempestuous sea, had been flung,
by the last mountain-wave of his shipwreck, into a quiet harbor.
There, as he lay more than half-lifeless on the strand, the fragrance
of an earthly rosebud had come to his nostrils, and, as odors will,
had summoned up reminiscences or visions of all the living and breathing
beauty, amid which he should have had his home.
will startle you to see what slaves we are to by-gone times—to Death,
if we give the matter the right word! . . . We read in Dead Men’s
books! We laugh at Dead Men’s jokes, and cry at Dead Men’s pathos!
. . . Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a Dead Man’s
icy hand obstructs us!”
individual of this class builds up, as it were, a tall and stately
edifice, which, in the view of other people, and ultimately in his
own view, is no other than the man’s character, or the man himself.
Behold, therefore, a palace!... [I]n some low and obscure nook .
. . may lie a corpse, half-decayed, and still decaying, and diffusing
its death-scent all through the palace! The inhabitant will not
be conscious of it; for it has long been his daily breath! . . .
Here, then, we are to seek the true emblem of the man’s character,
and of the deed that gives whatever reality it possesses, to his
man will commit almost any wrong—he will heap up an immense pile
of wickedness, as hard as granite, and which will weigh heavily
upon his soul, to eternal ages—only to build a great, gloomy, dark-chambered
mansion, for himself to die in, and for his posterity to be miserable
in. He lays his own dead corpse beneath the underpinning, as one
may say, and hangs his frowning picture on the wall, and, after
thus converting himself into an Evil Destiny, expects his remotest great-grandchildren
to be happy there!”
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