chapter  4
12 Pages

The Deployment of Sexualty

ThepressureofthepastonthepresentinThe HouseoftheSevenGablesisfeltmostacutely throughtheinstitutionofthefamily,asHolgrave insists."Underthatroof,throughaportionof threecenturies,therehasbeenperpetualremorse ofconscience,aconstantlydefeatedhope,strife amongstkindred,variousmisery,astrangeformof death,darksuspicion,unspeakabledisgrace,- all, ormostofwhichcalamity,Ihavethemeansof tracingtotheoldPuritan'sinordinatedesireto plantandendowafamily.Toplantafamily!This ideaisatthebottomofmostofthewrongand mischiefwhichmendo!"(!!,185).Theformationof astructureofpersonalrelationsbasedonalliance isantitheticaltothedemocraticandegalitarian ideasespousedbyHolgrave,andtothenewAmerican ethosgenerally.SoHolgraveseestheHouseof Pyncheonasananachronism,whichis,moreover, infectedwithlunacythroughitsinbreeding propensities."Humanblood,"heclaims,"inorderto keepitsfreshness,shouldruninhiddenstreams, asthewaterofanaqueductisconveyedin subterraneanpipes"(II,l85).Yetalthough Holgrave'slevellingpoliticalthoughtcombines withhisbiologisminhostilityto"family,"heis, aswesoonsee,abouttoembarkupontheplanting ofafamilyofhisown,withPhoebe.Ratherthan acceptthisasasimpleirony,inwhichthe erstwhilereformeriswonoverbythepleasuresof bedandboard,Iwishtoproposeitasan expressionoftheplaceofHolgraveandPhoebein thenovelasrepresentativesof"sexuality,"as opposedto"alliance,"whichisrepresentedby HepzibahandClifford.