Some Quotes from Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables
Ever since college, I have been fascinated by the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don’t know that I can even pin down exactly what it is about his writing that I enjoy so much, but it surely has something to do with his keen insights into human nature woven into his narratives.
Having had some commute time recently, I was able to read The House of the Seven Gables, and a few quotes struck me:
But ancient superstitions, after being steeped in human hearts and embodied in human breath, and passing from lip to ear in manifold repetition, through a series of generations, become imbued with an effect of homely truth.
There is certainly truth to this. Now of course some would use such reasoning to suggest that all talk of the supernatural is just such superstition. But if, as Calvin said, our hearts are “idol factories,” then it shouldn’t be surprising that people in cultures all over the world turn superstitions into “truth.” And of course, we must fight this tendency all the time, because it is tempting to let such things shape our thinking more than Scripture when we are not constantly engaged in the fight to be people of Scripture.
For, what other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one’s self!
Hawthorne had seen the ugly side of people, but I found this note to ring home so true. This is why I find myself frustrated when I hear politicians talk about how good people are and how that’s what should give us hope for the future. I consider myself to be not that much different than most people, and I don’t want everybody’s confidence in the goodness of my heart! Our hearts are the darkest dungeons, as Hawthorne says. Only by God’s grace do we not live with such hearts.