With the rise of separate spheres ideology in the first half of the nineteenth century, cultural venues from Webster’s American Dictionary to prominent magazines that published dozens of anti-boarding-house stories attempted to redefine “family” to more closely fit the ideal of the single family household by excluding boarders and lodgers. In contradistinction, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851) expands the possibilities for family in the intimate domestic-commercial space of the Pyncheon mansion, which has been converted from a private dwelling into a boarding-house that shelters lodger Holgrave Maule. A comparison between Hawthorne’s novel and “Taking Boarders,” T. S. Arthur’s 1851 cautionary tale about the publicity and danger of boarding, shows how Hawthorne evokes and then diminishes key concerns of boarding-house fiction to offer the model of the extended and extendable American boarding-house family as an alternative to foundational Pyncheon ideas of aristocratic blood-based kinship or to social relations based on the purely economic relations depicted in the cent-shop.


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pp. 331-357
Launched on MUSE
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