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Lyons 1 Clark Lyons Mrs. Ascari and Mrs.

Mannion English 2 and US History 1 7 April 2012 Freudian Analysis of Clifford in The House of the Seven Gables Can prison drive you crazy? Freud would answer yes. Thoughts can build up in a persons subconscious while they are in a stressful environment. When the person gets out of this stressful environment, their subconscious may not immediately recover, or ever recover. Prison seems to have had this bizarre effect on Clifford. Since prison conditions were awful in this time period, especially towards mentally disturbed prisoners, Cliffords condition was constantly worsening during his stay. Cliffords tiredness, rambling, and hysteria, in The House of the Seven Gables, are primarily due to the extreme amount of time that he spent in prison. Although there was a ten year period on prison and asylum reform during the time that The House of the Seven Gables takes place, this reform affected only a few prisons in the nation. The reason why there was much prison reform was because the prisons in America in this time period were among the worst in the modern world. Dorothea Dix, an advocate for prison and asylum reform, once said that prisoners were confined in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, beaten with rods, lashed into obedience. (Remini) In Cliffords pre-reform prison, the focus of the prison was primarily punishment, not rehabilitation. The fact is that Clifford did not need punishment because he was in prison for a crime that he did not commit. Not everyone can be as changed by prison as Clifford was, but he couldnt handle it. Before the story begins, Clifford was a pleasant, handsome gentleman. In fact he was a sybarite, the kind of person who devotes his entire life to the sensual pleasures of sight, sound,

Lyons 2 and touch. But, it is apparent to the reader that Clifford has changed because he does nothing but mope around the house for days on end in a state of ennui. At one point he almost jumped right out of the window. Hepzibah, his sister, also recognized his drastic change since he had been imprisoned. It seems Phoebe was the only person who could return him to his original self. However, she could only help Clifford temporarily, because Phoebe eventually had to leave. It was apparent that something was altered about Clifford during his time in prison. Hawthorne chose to leave out that part of the story. And this period of Cliffords life changed him so much, the reader can surmise that Cliffords time in prison deeply affected his subconscious. Freud analyzed the effect that traumatic events had on the subconscious. Clifford also exhibits characteristics that Freud considered to be signs of insanity. Freud was one of the first to realize that traumatic events can have a lasting effect on the mind. (Esther 90) One of his main points was that repressed memories could cause hysteria. (Esther 90) Because 19th century prisons were so awful, Cliffords stay in prison would definitely be considered a traumatic event by Freud. Overall, Cliffords incarceration had a lasting effect on his mind, changing him from a nice man into a borderline lunatic. After Clifford came back from prison he was completely changed. At first, Clifford just seemed lethargic and confused, but soon the reader could see that he was manic-depressive. Instead of cheering Hepzibah up with his long awaited presence, he just brought her down. Hawthorne described how Clifford had changed over the years, It could the more adequately be known that the soul of the man must have suffered some miserable wrong, from its earthly experience. (Hawthorne 80). It was not until Hepzibah offered him coffee that he actually recognized her. Clifford also seemed perplexed because it took him a while to get up the stairs. He kept stopping as if he forgot what he was doing. And, Clifford didnt say much when

Lyons 3 Hepzibah and Phoebe first invited him in. He also seems to be a bit delirious when he rambled, Will it last? How balmy the atmosphere How beautiful that play of sunshine! Those flowers that girls face, how cheerful, how blooming Ah! This must all be a dream! A dream! A dream! At times Clifford seemed more insane than confused; Hawthorne wrote, At last with tremulous limbs, he started up, set his foot on the window-sill, and in an instant more would have been in the unguarded balcony. (Hawthorne 122). This was the peak of Cliffords insanity. It is very strange that such a normal person could go away for 30 years and come back so completely different. One logical explanation is that Cliffords stay in prison was traumatic and left an imprint on his subconscious. Clifford wasnt always confused, lethargic, or out of control for his entire stay at The House of the Seven Gables. For much of his stay, Phoebe, the beneficent young guest of the house, was able to stabilize him. Phoebe was helping Hepzibah clean the house, run the shop, and now take care of Clifford. Clifford enjoyed Phoebes company, and she even kept him sane. Hawthorne described their relationship, Becoming habituated to her companionship, Clifford readily showed how capable of imbibing pleasant tints and gleams of cheerful light from all quarters his nature must originally have been. (Hawthorne 104). Phoebe was able to return Clifford to the man he used to be before he went to prison. Clifford was blowing bubbles out the window, which was something that he liked to do in his childhood. Soon, Phoebe got tired of always being around Clifford, and soon she had to leave. After Phoebe left, a storm came in. Clifford did not make his appearance below the stairs (Hawthorne 162) Also, to top it all off, the judge dropped by. Without Phoebe to comfort him, Clifford reverted back to his state of tiredness, confusion, and random outbursts. The best example of his random outbursts is when Clifford decides to leave the house right after the Judge died in his living room. Clifford should

Lyons 4 have immediately explained to Hepzibah what had transpired. The next step would have been to alert the police and clarify that he did nothing wrong. However, leaving by train, just made him seem guilty. He got lucky because he wasnt blamed for the judges murder. Without Phoebe there to keep him under control, Clifford made many bad decisions. Phoebe filled the void in Cliffords life and mind that he otherwise could not fill. Freud might say that Cliffords problems were completely subconscious. Cliffords time in prison should be considered a traumatic event. First of all, nineteenth-century prisons were appalling places. In the nineteenth century, mentally ill prisoners, who should have gotten treatment, almost always did not. (Rhodes 347) Also, Clifford was innocent, so the incarceration must have had an especially detrimental effect on his mind. The House of the Seven Gables is described to be very gloomy, like a prison, so Clifford could have been remembering his time in prison while he was in the house. According to Paul Edwards, The key concepts in the Freudian theory include those of repression, of sublimation, and of the unconscious itself. What is represented is too painful for the consciousness to continue to hold in view; (Edwards 250) In Freuds time, what Clifford was suffering from was known as hysteria. Dr. George Boeree wrote about a book that Freud co-authored, In it they explained their theory: Every hysteria is the result of a traumatic experience, one that cannot be integrated into the person's understanding of the world. The emotions appropriate to the trauma are not expressed in any direct fashion, but do not simply evaporate: They express themselves in behaviors that in a weak, vague way offer a response to the trauma. (Boeree 3) The best way for Clifford to have recovered would have been if he had gotten therapy. All of these issues combined created the perfect storm and only caused Cliffords problems to worsen.

Lyons 5 In conclusion, Cliffords tiredness, rambling, and hysteria were primarily influenced by the time that he spent in prison. Before he went to prison, he was a polite person and someone that Hepzibah looked up to. Before Hepzibah knew how bad Clifford had gotten, she looked forward to seeing him again. But, when Clifford finally came back, something was gravely different about him. It was clear that prison had an effect on his mind. Clifford was able to revert back to his old self, when he was around Phoebe, but she couldnt stay forever. Once Phoebe left, Clifford was back to being tired, confused, and hysterical. Hawthorne clearly understood what Freud meant by great trauma can deeply affect a person.

Lyons 6 Works Cited Boeree, George C. "Sigmund Freud." My Webspace Files. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <>. Edwards, Paul. "Freud, Sigmund." The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Reprint ed. Vol. 3. New York: Macmillan, & The Free, 1972. 252. Print. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables. New York: Dodd, Mead &, 1950. Print. Menaker, Esther. "Anna Freud's Analysis by Her Father: The Assault on the Self." Journal of Religion and Health 40.1 (2001): 90. JSTOR. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. Remini, Robert. "26d. Prison and Asylum Reform." Prison and Asylum Reform []. Independence Hall Association, 2008. Web. 18 May 2012. Rhodes, Lorna A. "Taxonomic Anxieties: Axis I and Axis II in Prison." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14.3 (2000): 347. JSTOR. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.