Biblical Allusions in Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables

Essay by twinkle82University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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On a first read, religion does not seem to play a major role in Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. It is mentioned that Phoebe goes to church, but the reader doesn't accompany her on her journey or through the service. And while she is a pious, proper, and ideal woman, she is not described in religious terms, unlike Ellen in Warner's Wide, Wide World. Hepzibah tries to pray, but isn't successful for the most part. Religion appears as a very trivial part of the book. This is probably due in part to the gothic style of the novel that draws the reader's attention to the supernatural aspects of the story. However, when engaging in an in-depth analysis of the text, the underlying biblical allusions are quite evident.

The name Hepzibah is taken from The Bible, where it appears twice: in 2 Kings 21:1 where Hephzibah is referred to as being the mother of King Manasseh and again in Isaiah 62:4 where the city of Jerusalem is called Hephzibah. Hephzibah literally means "my delight is in her" (NKJV 875). Hepzibah's development as a character mirrors that of the prophecy made about the city of Jerusalem is Isaiah 62:4.

For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace,/ And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,/ Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,/ And her salvation as a lamp that burns,/ The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,/ And all kings your glory./ You shall be called by a new name/ Which the mouth of the Lord will name./ You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord/ And a royal diadem in the hand of you God./ You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,/ Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;/ But you shall...