Though Hawthorne published “The Hollow of the Three Hills” in 1830, well before the the 1901 date of Wharton’s “The Moving Finger,” she was nonetheless influenced by Hawthorne works. Consider the similarities in the two pieces.
#1 by Richie Klocksieben on September 30, 2012 - 11:56 am
Wharton was no doubt influenced by Hawthorne in her writing, this is most evident in the disinct similarities between her peice, The Moving Finger, and Hawthorne’s piece, The Hollow of the Three Hills. The two pieces share similar motifs, such as the symbolic use of the number three, and the utilization of the romantic genre.
In the Hollow of the Three Hills the idea of the number three is repeated numerous times to reinforce its symbolic meaning, three representing the Holy Trinity, this can be seen through the three hills themselves, and the number visions the woman has. This idea is mirrored in Wharton’s piece with the number three being represented by the number of times the painting is refurbished, the love triangle between Mr. Grancy, Claydon, and Mrs. Grancy, and the idea that the dead wife’s spirit is also a wife, giving the total of three wives. Religiously, the Holy Trinity represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, the use of it as a motif by the authors adds extra emphasis to the theme of the stories and that they will be punished for the their sins.
The theme of the two pieces themselves is also similar, with both being written in a romantic styling, relying heavily on the supernatural influences. In The Hollow of the Three Hills this can be seen primarily through the use of the witch and her ability to produce visions for the lady to hear. Another way this supernatural motif permeates is through the nearly perfect circular hollow in which the story takes place, back in ye olden days anything seen as a perfect shape that occurred naturally in nature was seen as inherently evil due to the improbability that it would take shape like that. In Wharton’s piece the supernatural idea can be sensed when Grancy’s second wife dies but it is presented that her spirit is still alive, and that it is still able to influence the events of the story.
#2 by Richie Klocksieben on September 30, 2012 - 11:57 am
Word count: 336
#3 by Paige Wisniewski on September 30, 2012 - 11:52 am
AICE English Literature
Although Edith Wharton’s The Moving Finger is written 71 years after Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Hollow of Three Hills, similarities between the two pieces are present. Symbolism and motifs among the stories parallel each other, as both writers weave in mystery, death, and madness into their respective plots.
Hawthorne’s The Hollow of Three Hills encompasses the story of a sinful woman seeking relief and redemption from her mistakes, through the spells of a witch. The very essence of the story indicates a supernatural theme, while Hawthorne comments upon the Puritan belief system. The sinful woman is haunted by images of her wrongdoing as the witch recites the spell to provide the woman with the experience. Similarly, The Moving Finger features a slightly supernatural theme, as the widowed husband believes the ghost of his deceased wife appears to him within a painting of her. Wharton implies the husband is going mad- but Claydon (the painter) experiences the same supernatural encounter with Mrs. Grancy’s ghost. An adulterous activity is implied throughout the two stories as well, as Claydon claims love for Mrs. Grancy in The Moving Finger, and the woman is forced to confront the effects of her ‘sin’ in The Hollow of Three Hills.
The theme of ‘three’ is persistent within the two stories as well. The Hollow of Three Hills includes three hills, indicative of the Holy Trinity. The Moving Finger includes Claydon’s three re-paintings of Mrs. Grancy’s portrait.
#4 by tfarland on October 3, 2012 - 6:02 pm
word count 238
#5 by Kateryna Gorbanovska on September 30, 2012 - 11:52 am
AICE English Literature
30 Sept. 2012
Both pieces convey elements of death, betrayal, and psychological decay. Psychological decay is an exceptionally prominent theme in both works, however. In Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills,” a young woman seeks the aid of a witch to reconnect with her past. The young woman experiences a serious infliction of an illness, so this encounter comes near the end of her life (at a relatively young age). In addition to this burden of death, the young woman carries three other burdens; sins she has committed to her parents, husband, and child, all of whom lie in her distant past. In seeking this witch, the woman ultimately longs to reconcile her conflicting interests and receive forgiveness in some abstract means. Hawthorne takes advantage of these sins and displays them in the woman’s physical and mental features. He analyzes the impact of such negative events on her conscience and her state of mental well-being. In Wharton’s piece, psychological decay is analyzed as well, though to a different extent. Like the young woman deals with her daughter’s death, Mr. Grancy deals with the sudden death of his wife. His psychological decay becomes chronicled through a series of scenes that depict his mental stature at various points in his life. His wife’s life-like representation in his imaginations changes from a ghost to a voice to a realistic figure on his wall. These three avid representations connote the downfall of Mr. Grancy, as he interprets his very own death in the eyes of his own mental conception of his wife.
Next to psychological analysis, mysticism, or the influence of the supernatural, becomes a predominant element in both works. In his piece, Hawthorne uses the witch as being symbolic of the forces of evil or a reincarnation-like figure of the devil. In seeking aid from the witch, the young woman becomes victim to her final temptation in her sin-ridden life. The characterization of the witch as the devil allows the young woman to be characterized by her encounters with the supernatural and evil. On the other hand, instead of dealing with religion, Wharton incorporates haunting elements into her writing. Her depiction of Mrs. Grancy as a ghost, a voice, and then an eerie personified image on Grancy’s wall serves to illustrate the character of Mr. Grancy more than anything else, and enlighten the reader of the actual relationship between Mr. Grancy and his wife, instead of his convoluted perception of it.
Word Count: 406
#6 by Ben Lamoureux on September 30, 2012 - 11:23 am
Despite the 70-year gap between the publication dates, Edith Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” show similarities that could only have been birthed by Wharton’s ardent study of Hawthorne’s work. Her style and the tone developed in “The Moving Finger” very closely parallel that of “The Hollow of the Three Hills”.
The first thing I noticed was a very strong feeling of ambiguity, like we discussed with “The Hollow of the Three Hills” in class. This stylistic flourish is present in both works – something that Wharton probably adopted from her readings of Hawthorne’s work. The ambiguous nature of the stories is, ironically, clear to the readers – Hawthorne never makes an outright statement of what the lady’s sin was, nor does he ever elaborate on either of the characters’ backstories, save the visions that the witch presents. Wharton equally never really states HOW the painting is seemingly alive. Its power grows increasingly mysterious throughout the story, to the point that it seems to have such power over Grancy that it kills him – one also is begged the question of who is responsible: the painting, or the painter? Claydon does have clear motivation for wanting Grancy dead, but again, we never find out if he was the culprit or not. Through keeping information from us, the authors allow our minds to play a role in the telling of the story. Often times what man creates with his mind when blind is far scarier than what he can see with his eyes.
The other close similarity between the stories is the supernatural and paranormal elements contained in the plots. Hawthorne’s is blatant: he has a witch and there is magic used. Wharton’s use is more subtle: the painting has supernatural effects on those that know of it, and even more so on the one that owns it (Grancy). To an extent, it can be speculated that Claydon is a supernatural figure, such as a warlock. Hawthorne’s setting is more reminiscent of a horror/supernatural story, with it being the literal “bewitching hour” and the coloring being gray and dead. Wharton’s story is more psychological – is Grancy mad? Is Claydon? Who is in their right mind here? That, being more realistic than a satanic witch, is almost scarier to me.
Both stories also have the motif of using the number three in succession: Hawthorne has three hills surrounding the hollow and has the lady experiencing three visions, while Wharton has the painting being redone three times (the aging, the “knowing look”, and the reversion back to the original) and Grancy’s three wives (his first, his second, and his “spiritual”).
Another similarity between the stories is that of relationship problems (the lady’s unfaithfulness in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and the love triangle in “The Moving Finger”).
Hawthorne’s works definitely had an effect on Wharton and her writing. She shows her admiration for his style and themes by emulating them and thus creating a closely paralleled pair of stories between “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and “The Moving Finger”.
Word Count: 512
#7 by Thuy Tran on September 30, 2012 - 11:20 am
AICE English Lit- Period 4
29 September 2012
Though decades apart, Wharton’s admiration of Hawthorn is evident in the similarities shared by “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and “The Moving Finger”.
The number three is often used to serve as a balance; it’s not small enough to be insignificant, but it’s not large enough to become overwhelming or insignificant in its own way. Throughout the short stories, the recurring motif of three becomes a significant detail. In Hawthorne’s work, he places the motif in the image of the three hills and the three visions. His usage of the motif is to support the religious theme. “The golden skirts of day were yet lingering upon the hills, but deep shades obscured the hollow and the pool.” (3) The sin-afflicted woman sold herself to the devil deep inside the shadowed trench in order to seek forgiveness. Ironically, her method of obtaining this relief requires the aid of Satan rather than the benevolent nature of God. Instead to approaching the light of trinity, she traps herself in this hell hole. She seeks repentance for the shame she brought upon her parents, the grief she inflicted on her husband, and the neglect she left with her child. In “The Moving Finger”, Wharton also employs a dark, supernatural tone. Her usage of the leitmotif is seen in the love triangle between Mr. and Mrs. Grancy and Claydon. Similar to Hawthorne’s work, Wharton hints at the sin of adultery. “… When Claydon painted her he caught just the look she used to lift to mine….” (76) However, in this case, the woman’s possible wrong doing is not the dominant focus. Claydon painted her three times according what Grancy wished for and how he himself interpreted that wish. After three years of marriage, the second Mrs. Grancy dies, which leads to the following two touchups on the painting upon her husband’s insistence. According to him, it was what she would have wanted. Claydon reluctantly agrees, but he reverts the portrait to its original state after his friend’s death. Both men, no matter how intensely they felt they loved her, only saw what they wanted to see in her. Her personal feelings were omitted from the story, and even the details of her death were unimportant. Grancy trapped his version of her in his memories, and Claydon locked his own version in his painting.
In both cases, sin occurs in the form of adultery, and the recurring idea of the number three settles itself within the plot. Both writers exercise their skills to subtly and precisely convey their dark themes. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, the woman’s mistake drives her husband mad and lands her child in a box underground. In “The Moving Finger”, Mrs. Grancy’s multiple interests has her partner in crime completely infatuated and murderous, resulting in the death of her delirious husband. It’s not what the women did that was the focus; it was the after-effects.
#8 by Danielle Madore on September 30, 2012 - 11:18 am
pd6 AICE lit
Through comparison of the two writings:”The Hollow between the Three Hills” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and “The Moving Finger” by Edith Wharton we can see similar elements used. Edith was a well educated woman she knew of Hawthorne and his work, which she was influenced by greatly, using similar elements from him in her writing.
At first glance we notice the motif of three in both works. In Wharton’s piece there is a sort of love triangle between the three main characters; another is that Mrs. Grancy’s portrait is changed three times by Claydon. In Hawthorne’s piece, the three hills, that makes up part of the title, symbolizes the holy trinity and is used as a barrier between good and evil. Deeper look we see the three reappear again in the three visions shown to the young woman.
The usage of sin and guilt is used in both pieces as well. Brought out by different events, but both represent the same meaning. In both, the supernatural is a large element incorporated which ties in with sin. Through the characters interaction with the supernatural it ruins them and becomes part of their sin. The woman is sinful in that she has betrayed all that loved her, and went against, “her holiest vows.” and through her sin her guilt over takes her, and slowly kills her in the end. We can tell the guilt is destroying her when she is first mentioned, she is written as a graceful and pretty as well as very sick and ill looking. Grancy is sinful in that he trapped his wife to him through her portrait, making her his prisoner in both life and death. His guilt from doing so eats away at him, like a sickness, which eventually kills him. Grancy is not the only one guilty in Wharton’s story; the other male piece of the love triangle, Claydon is also struck by guilt and sin. He was in love with Mrs. Grancy, and when he painted the portrait she in a way became his, again holding possession over another which can be taken as a sinful act. Claydon was eventually driven mad from his lustful thoughts of her affecting his painting.
Wharton took elements of Hawthorne’s and incorporated them into her works, so interwoven it almost goes by unnoticed. Wharton uses Hawthorne’s motif of three to depict the sinful actions of two men possessing one woman, which turns into a sickly obsession. Hawthorne uses three to depict ruling purity over the darkness in the center of the light. In both we take from them that guilt can destroy us in all of it’s forms, we can search for forgiveness, but we really must forgive ourselves and let go of things that we hold on to or they can ruin us. Through the authors use of supernatural forces, dark mood, and tone that setups up that creepy kind of atmosphere, their very realistic meaning come into view. Fairy tales and such were used to tell real life morals and situations, both Hawthorne’s and Wharton are good examples of more modern fairy tales.
#9 by Emily Guerrasio on September 30, 2012 - 10:57 am
Like many writers are today, Wharton was influenced by writers from well before her time. As one notices Hawthorne’s use of the number three in his story, “The Hallow of the Three Hills”, it’s almost impossible to miss Wharton’s use of it as well in her short story, “The Moving Finger”, along with symbolism in each.
In Hawthorne’s work, three is actually a leitmotif. From that leitmotif, we have the three hills, and the three visions. The three hills represent the Trinity, or the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as the place that the woman would rather be instead of the hell that is the hallow. The three visions are what the young woman gets in exchange for her soul. She realizes that if she were going to Hell anyway, she would like to see her family and how they are doing since she committed her sin. Hawthorne relays these visions through sound imagery. The young woman hears her parents, sad and broken in the first vision. Her husband in the second at a mad house, and her child in the third, at its burial service.
Wharton also uses the number three as a motif in her story. Claydon’s revision of the painting three times; first during it’s creation, second when Mr. Grancy requested her to grow old with him, and third when Claydon restored it to it’s original way. It could also be said that Mr. Grancy had three wives, in a way. His first wife who passed, his second who passed, and then the second wife’s spirit that he wouldn’t let die. His second wife also died three years after marriage.
The two pieces were also similar in the moods they displayed. Mystery was present in each short story; Hawthorne’s piece never truly describing the young woman’s sin and Wharton’s piece never truly describing the relationship between Mrs. Grancy and Claydon.
Both were packed with symbolism as well, the painting in Wharton’s work symbolizing everyone’s obsession with Mrs. Grancy’s appearance rather than Mrs. Grancy herself. It was difficult to miss all of the symbolism in Hawthorne’s piece, ranging from the three hills symbolizing the Trinity to the imagery of the hallow representing the female anatomy and suggesting the young woman to be an adulterer.
#10 by James Rosso on September 30, 2012 - 10:35 am
Death and madness are similarly shared between the two pieces. Sin, guilt, death, and madness occur in near parallel. In Hawthorne’s piece, the young lady has committed adultery and her infidelity has led to her husband’s loss of reality, putting him in a mad house, while the lady’s guilt leads her to her death. In her husband’s madness, her husband becomes solely focused on the memory of his wife, “He went to-and-fro continually… In each member of that frenzied company, whose own burning thoughts had become their exclusive world, he sought an auditor for the story of his individual wrong….” (Hawthorne 3). Likewise in Wharton’s piece, Mrs. Grancy commits adultery with Claydon, the sin leads her to an early death, and the sin drives her husband into madness, “‘From thinking that she would have been interested in what I was doing, I came to feel that she /was/ interested – that she was there and that she knew…till at last she became the very air I breathed'” (Wharton 79). Hawthorne’s lady I to her husband’s madness as Wharton’s Mrs. Grancy is to Grancy’s madness.
Elements of the supernatural are likewise found in both pieces, though not quite as parallel. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, Hawthorne establishes the supernatural from the onset with his fairytale technique. In describing the mysterious setting and the meanly-dressed woman, who gives the young lady visions of sorrow and despair, Hawthorne establishes this fairytale. Even the visions, which are presented in sounds and fade like ghosts, achieve the same effect. In Wharton’s “The Moving Finger”, the extra-ordinary is seen in a different context. The portrait of Mrs. Grancy works as a sort of bridge between the present and the afterlife, kept open by Claydon’s updates of the portrait’s age. From the afterlife, Mrs. Grancy haunts Grancy and Claydon as a consequence of her sin. For Grancy, the portrait appears to speak to him as if it is Mrs. Grancy, “‘then gradually, I began to notice a look of sadness in the picture’s eyes; a look that seemed to say: “Don’t you see that I am lonely too?”‘” (Wharton 79). Then ultimately, the same effect captures Claydon; “‘…as I sat looking up at her, she seemed to say, “I’m not yours but his, and I want you to make me what he wishes… now I don’t ask you to believe me; but I swear it was /her/ face that told me he was dying, and that she wanted him to know it! She had a message and she wanted me to deliver it'” (Wharton 83).
Like death, madness, and the supernatural, Wharton appears to have adopted obscurity from Hawthorne. In Hawthorne’s piece, it is not immediately known why the lady is in the hollow, though context points to her having done something bad, the visions are described as indistinct noise at first and are only described through sounds. In Hawthorne’s case, this obscurity allows room for interpretation, saving Hawthorne from preaching, and leaving the supernatural elements to guide the reader to the piece’s purpose. In Wharton’s case, the obscurity resides in the untold details; who is the real Mrs. Grancy and how did Claydon capture her private look? Claydon’s unclear intentions have the effect of leaving the reader to think Claydon has some ulterior motive to helping Grancy, though even this is not proven either way.
Despite the gap in time between Hawthorne and Wharton, Hawthorne’s influence is evident in Wharton’s writing in the death, the madness, the supernatural and the obscure that Hawthorne became famous for, though each has been formed into originals under Wharton’s style.
#11 by Jennifer Froehlich on September 30, 2012 - 10:11 am
Although there was a 71 year gap between the publishing of “The Moving Finger” by Edith Wharton and “The Hollow of the Hills” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are distinct similarities between the two stories. The likeness of Edith’s piece compared to Hawthorne’s is not surprising considering she studied and was influenced by his work. Both authors used similar writing elements, shared the number three as a leitmotif, and touched on the idea of adultery and also sin/guilt.
The supernatural element is strong in both pieces. In “The Hollow of the Hills” the old woman is decrepit and decaying, displaying characteristics of the supernatural. The two women of Hawthorne’s story are placed in a Gothic setting where the scary old woman provides the young woman with visions of the girl’s family. In “The Moving Finger”, witchcraft is not brought up but instead there is a more ghostly feel because of the second wife’s lingering spirit. The late Mrs. Grancy in Wharton’s piece comes alive through the painting; Mr. Grancy begins to feel her presence and soon enough he believes the painting is his wife.
Many people would agree that the most apparent resemblance between the two stories is the leitmotif of three. Hawthorne was big on the number three and in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” there are obviously the three hills (representing the holy trinity) and then the three visions. Within Wharton’s work there is a triangular relationship between the Grancy’s and Claydon, the painting is changed three times, and one could even say there are three wives if they account for the living spirit.
Sin and guilt are a prominent theme in both stories. “There is a weight in my bosom that I cannot away with, and I have come hither to inquire of their welfare,” (2) is what the young woman says to the witch. From the start you know she has sinned and feels so guilty that she wants to be punished; you learn it was adultery once the story goes. Mr. Grancy expresses guilt over the jokes he made about his wife growing tired of him, “Three years of it – and then she died.”(78) He also felt bad because “she would have hated to be left behind” (79). While Claydon does not show it much, I believe he feels guilt for killing his friend. He claimed to care about him and then killed him through the painting. Adultery was also implied in this story which is another similarity.
Even though Hawthorne focused more of his writings on adultery and Wharton’s aim was to express the oppression of women, these two stories of theirs have quite a few similarities.
#12 by Cameron T. Lilly on September 30, 2012 - 9:28 am
AICE Lit P. 8
30 Sept. 2012
Edith Wharton came quite a number of years after the acclaimed Nathaniel Hawthorne, so it is only natural for her to look back upon and subsequently emulate his writing styles and even his themes to some point. The number three, for example, is a motif that has been ever present in writings, both socially aimed and those with religious interpretations. The number three is hardwired into the human brain as being a nice, balanced, easily comprehended number. In Hawthorne’s tales the ever recurrent motif of three is very noticeable. In the title itself, “The Hollow of the Three Hills” alluding to the religious meaning of the Trinity. The Three hills symbolize what little bit of hope the young woman has left for herself to come out of this terrible plight. There are also three visions that the witch delivers to the younger lady, which eventually leads to her downfall. In Wharton’s story we see the three shows up in more of a subtle way. There is a twisted love triangle between the two men and Mrs. Grancy and the portrait of Mrs. Grancy is changed a total of three times. Both authors also are well known for the incorporation of the supernatural in their works. With Hawthorne’s tale we see this with the old decaying woman, the visions she brings the young lady, and the ever looming references and symbols of religion and demons. With Wharton, the structure of the story, again, leads to a more subtle bringing of this supernatural element. The painting is an object of such marvelous beauty it seems to have a very great, unnatural effect on the beholders.
#13 by tfarland on October 3, 2012 - 6:08 pm
word count: 273
#14 by Brandon Runyan on September 30, 2012 - 9:07 am
At first glance, one might think that Hawthorne’s and Wharton’s pieces are relatively different. After closer examination, however, you begin to realize that the two use many of the same elements, such as the motif of three and a supernatural or gothic theme, in their writing. These two specific elements can be seen in Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and Wharton’s “The Moving Finger.” This is due to Wharton’s fascination and inspiration gained from Hawthorne’s works.
The motif of three becomes a dominate element throughout both pieces. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the three hills located at the top of the basin, represent the Holy Trinity. This motif goes along with the allegory of sin, guilt, and consequence. Along with the hills, the visions the lady has are in three. In the visions she sees her parents, husband, and child and how her sin has affected their lives. To round out the allegory, she wants to see these visions out of guilt, but in turn become a consequence. Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” adopts the same motif of three from Hawthorne. In Wharton’s piece, she uses the three paintings to represent three different stages in life, and the object like position of women in society.
In terms of theme, both writers tend to use a supernatural or gothic theme in their pieces. For example, in Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” there is an old witch. This witch is seen as an evil, almost un-human like being. Beyond the literal sense of the piece, the witch is parallel with the hollow; the hollow represents hell, while the witch herself represents the devil. In Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” the characters of Mr. Grancy and Claydon seem to be haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Grancy. The use of ghosts or spirits and haunted are just another example of the supernatural or gothic theme Wharton respectfully adopted from Hawthorne.
#15 by tfarland on October 3, 2012 - 6:07 pm
word count: 321
#16 by Thao Tran on September 30, 2012 - 3:05 am
AICE Literature Block 4
September 30, 2012
Discussion Board #5
Although Edith Wharton and Nathaniel Hawthorne published their literary works decades apart, Wharton was influenced by Hawthorne’s writings. They have many similarities such as the use of ambiguity in their works and the elements of macabre. They also have the common use of things in threes.
There is ambiguity in each story. In Hawthorne’s, he has doesn’t go into detail about the characters, and is very vague about the lady’s sin that she seeks forgiveness for. Instead he focuses more on the lady’s punishment which is the main point of the story. Also, he doesn’t tell whether her death was a release of her guilt or another layer of suffering. Wharton writes about Claydon’s obsession with Mrs. Grancy, but she is very unclear whether Claydon loves Mrs. Grancy as a person or the person that the portrait portrayed. Also, the details on Mrs. Grancy are minimal; she is depicted as beautiful but she has no actual role in the story other than being the object of fixation for the two men. She also does not clarify on how Claydon was able to get that specific look from Mrs. Grancy that was shown in the painting. In both stories the authors use ambiguity to create a sense of mystery.
They also use the elements of macabre, which create a scary mood. In Hawthorne’s he describes the setting as dark and muggy, with putrid water. There is also the old woman who plays the role of a witch who is the symbol of evil in the story; she gains happiness from the lady’s death and chuckles. He uses a lot of symbolism to represent the lady’s punishment and journey to hell. There are also references to religious ceremonies where normally the person is cleanses, but in this case ritual is performed by the witch, a minion of the devil, rather than god. He also manipulates the amount of light and colors to show a sort of dark and creepy story. Hawthorne leaves out bright colors as well. In Wharton’s she creates a psychological sort of horror story. The main character Mr. Grancy loses his mind when his wife dies suddenly, and later on he begins to see her ghost. At first he slipped into and out of reality, but as he aged she became more realistic to him, which is an indication that he has gone mad. There is also the unhealthy attachment that Claydon had on the painting.
A common motif used in literature is the use of objects in threes. Hawthorne includes the three hills as a part of the title to emphasize its importance. He uses three to describe the hills that sort of hide this pit from the rest of the world; the area is secluded. He describes how the hills block out the light from the pit, meaning that the pit is a black abyss that leads to hell. Wharton uses three to show a psychological, love triangle amongst the characters. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Grancy were married for three years before she suddenly died.
Word Count: 522
#17 by Wray Burgess on September 30, 2012 - 2:06 am
AICE Literature Period 8
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton share many similarities in Writing style and genre. Specifically, the two stories we’ve read in class, “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and “The Moving Finger”, are an example of the specific similarities I’m referring to. To begin, both of the writers romanticise their subject matter, to distance it from realism, and the methods that they use for doing this are also similar.
Both stories have topics relating to the supernatural, and the way that the authors use description to create the romantic structure and distance their supernatural story from realistic constraints is similar. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills,” Hawthorne uses his eerie description of the supernatural to relate to and represent the religious theme in the story, as does Wharton, but to accomplish a different goal. The Moving Finger is, instead, to critique the treatment of women in the time period, by using the painting as an allegory.
Not only that, The both of them utilize the same “Three” motifs within the stories we read in class. The “Three Hills” is comparable to the “Three Paintings” in The Moving Finger. This can be representative of several things, the one we noted in class being the Holy Trinity, however I’d argue that it’s symbolic of something else, since in the B.C. era, the number “three” represented earth, and the number “four” represents god. The lucky number is “seven” because it’s three plus four, and unlucky is “six” because it’s two of earth, and no god. In both stories, the “three” is used around situations in which undesirable things occur, hence my reasoning that the “three” is not referencing a trinity, however it is still a motif in both stories, as well as in other stories by the same authors. This could be because Whartons works were inspired by Hawthornes, or it could be purely coincedence.
Although Wharton and Hawthorne are similar in a host of ways, they differ in a few as well. As mentioned earlier, Hawthorne’s themes are more religious in nature, specifically in “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, whereas Wharton’s are critical of society.
Fleisch Kincaid Grade level: 14
Fleisch Kincaid Readability level: 37
Word Count: 372
#18 by tfarland on October 3, 2012 - 6:11 pm
(not going to count the conclusion, if you can call it that. Even your intro in unnecessry) word count: 312
#19 by Sharon Chen on September 30, 2012 - 1:59 am
AICE English Literature – 4
29 September 2012
As each writer develops their own style from others, Edith Wharton did the same with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work. For the readers that have read both “The Moving Finger” and “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, they could see the resemblance between the styles they chose. Both authors use the repetition of threes in their short stories, which they incorporate it so subtlety that the readers might have to read in depth to find the other aspects. Also, both stories show the importance that women hold, as well as the plot and conflicts that develop around them. Just as Hawthorne enjoys adding the sense of ambiguity into his works, which is what is seen in Wharton’s short story as well. Although the two authors have written their stories in a time period far apart from one another, there is clearly an influence made by Hawthorne in Wharton’s “The Moving Finger”.
Hawthorne’s uses of threes were prominent in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” as he mentions of the trinity quite often. Since the story was revolved around the belief of heaven and hell, the three hills represented as the trinity and the power it had over the hell of the swampy woods located at the very bottom of the area. Not only were the hills in threes, but the visions that the young lady had. She had images shown to her three times about her family. Wharton then uses this technique in her work as the tale of Mrs. Grancy’s painting had mentioned subjects in threes as well. Claydon was asked and changed the painting of Mrs. Grancy three times; Wharton also briefly mentions how Mr. and Mrs. Grancy were married for three years. Even though some points about sets of threes don’t make a large impact to the storyline, it all adds up to the end. Both authors must have known that people remember the pattern in threes the most, which is why when they decided to include it in their short stories. As the readers indicate this usage, or if they were pointed out, they appreciate what the author has done. This might also be a way to define what is important in the story.
When relating the two short stories together, one can tell that both authors surround the plot around a woman. In the case of “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, Hawthorne speaks about a young lady’s plead for forgiveness from a strange and sketchy old lady. In Wharton’s story, she bases it on Mrs. Grancy. The beginning of the tale only briefly brings her up when she was alive, but for the rest of the story, it was all about the painting of her. The “power” that the woman had in each situation was the ability to have the whole story about them. The spotlight was centered on each one and they might have used this to convey the message of how women aren’t given a lot of attention in general, and when they are, it’s usually portraying them in a negative aspect, either towards themselves, or the people around them. This was shown through Mrs. Grancy, who was treated as an item as both men fought for the looks of a painting, and the young lady, who ended up passing away in the end, never revealing if she was forgiven or not.
The sense of ambiguity in Wharton’s work can be traced back to Hawthorne’s natural love for the incorporation of vagueness. The fact that it was used to bring out more of the mystery in both stories could be tied to one another. The authors relish how their audience has to draw a conclusion in what they’re trying to convey, such as why the young lady was so burdened by her sins that she would risk her life just to break free, or why Glancy felt as if the expression he painted was the same one Mrs. Grancy would give him when they were alone. The little questions that pop up in our minds are what propel the story in a deeper sense. Once the readers have made a guess as to what might have happened, they can understand the story as a whole, and up close, better.
Word Count: 705
#20 by Nick Lemon on September 30, 2012 - 12:44 am
English Literature, AICE
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Hollow of Three Hills and Edith Wharton’s The Moving Finger were written in 1830 and 1899, respectively. Despite this difference in time, the two stories are comparable in many aspects.
The first comparison point between the two would be the ambiguity. The actions around the women (both wives) are unclear. The Hollow of Three Hills introduces the young woman and is unclear of her sin and actions prior to the story. The Moving Finger introduces Grancy’s wife, but does not tell us what she died of. As the stories progress, more and more of the hidden story is revealed; the woman in The Hollow of Three Hills is slowly revealed to have been adulterous, causing the shame of her parents, the insanity of her wife, and the death of her child. Alternatively, the death of Mrs. Grancy, an unclear event, is hinted at in the line “…Oh, I know what you’ve thought of me – I can guess! You think I killed Grancy, I suppose?” (82) And the most clear evidence of the ambiguity of both stories is the anonymity of the two women; neither have a name, and Mrs. Grancy is simply called Mrs. Grancy.
The second comparison would be the hints of adultery. Hawthorne is a deeply religious man and is concerned over sin and morality. Wharton is more concerned about the psychological and political aspects of humanity, and being someone who was adulterous herself, writes about adultery. The difference between the two stories is that one is rather obvious about it while the other is more subtle. In The Moving Finger we catch that something is off in the line “…When Claydon painted her he caught just the look she used to lift to mine when I came in – I’ve wondered, sometimes, at his knowing how she looked when she and I were alone.” (78) The Hollow of Three Hills ends in the accusation of the woman as an adulterous woman who brought her family to ruin, and The Moving Finger ends in this implication of a love triangle or an affair between Mrs. Grancy and Claydon.
Other comparisons, which are not as strong in correlation, but still equally important, are the repetition of threes. In The Hollow of Three Hills, there are three visions, three hills, and so on. In The Moving Finger the painting of Mrs. Grancy is redone three times. Also, there is a hint of supernaturalism or spirituality in both of the stories. While it is clear and evident in The Hollow of Three Hills, with clear references to satanic rituals, witches, visions, and heaven and hell, it is also in The Moving Finger. The painting seems to take on a sense of reality, becoming supernatural, and blurring the distinction between reality and imagination. Mrs. Grancy almost becomes a ghost, hanging over the male characters and deciding their actions.
Word Count: 480
#21 by Hannah Esham on September 30, 2012 - 12:33 am
AICE English Literature (6th)
29, September, 2012
“Hawthorne and Wharton”
Hawthorne and Wharton have very similar minds when it comes to writing. Although Wharton wrote “The Moving Finger” almost 70 years after Hawthorne wrote “Hollow of the Three Hills”, Wharton was strongly influenced by Hawthorne and admired his works. There are many similarities between these two short stories which include the motif of the repeating number three, working in forms of allegory and symbol, and portrayal of imagery.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Hollow of the Three Hills” works in the form of allegory and symbols. The hollow itself and the tall tree in the hollow actually represents a sexual symbol. The three hills are a symbol of the Trinity. The old lady is a symbol of the moral agent of evil. There are many more symbols, but Hawthorne incorporates the “three hills” and the “three visions” many times throughout the story, making them the leitmotif’s of the story. This story is about a women who is in a blight state because she’s burdened with guilt and sin. From what we can make of the imagery and symbols, this woman has most likely had an affair, and does not realize the effect of her sins. This woman feels very guilty for having met with this old woman, who we believe to be a witch, willing to sell her soul. She ends up feeling very nervous, but is stuck inside the hollow and is being judged by her visions and her own self. The old witch-like woman gains pleasure in her punishment. The woman is looking for an escape from the hollow, but won’t find it, which may be another symbolic representation of her inner-evil. Hawthorne uses color imager when describing how no light shines down into the hollow, only onto the three hills. The mood of the story could be described as remorseful, somber, gloomy, or despairing. One vision out of the three that Hawthorne uses in the story is a voice. The voice of the witch muttering a prayer while the woman is covered with a cloak. Another faint voice starts to appear and becomes more distinct and she realizes it’s the voice of her parents. Another vision was that of her, what we believe to be, husband that she is divorced from, or separated from voice. This vision describes the effects of her sins. She hears shrieks , sobs, moans, threats, and then a love song. This could lead us to believe that he’s in an asylum.
This story can be related to or similar to “The Moving Finger” in many ways. When Hawthorne begins his story by describing the ambiguity of the woman, Wharton does the same thing with Mrs. Grancy and Claydon, leading us to believe they had an affair, but we’re still not quite sure. Like I mentioned earlier, The number three appears in both of these short stories, because Wharton admired Hawthorne’s works, and was fond of his usage of the number three. Wharton incorporates the number three into her story by describing the love triangle between the characters. Another similarity between the two stories is the lack of being straight forward with the events that happened in or prior to the story. Both Wharton and Hawthorne use symbol and allegory to describe the events with out actually saying them, and intelligently brings them into the story without us realizing it until the end. Wharton does this through psychologically analyzing Mrs. Grancy’s death through other characters rather than describing her actual death. Hawthorn does this with the woman’s guilt and sin, and how he doesn’t show the affects that her sins had on her, but rather on the other people in her life.
Word Count: 621
#22 by Amanda Blowers on September 30, 2012 - 12:01 am
AICE English Literature 6
29 September 2012
Hawthorne and Wharton
Strategic writers often mirror other writers, taking ideas from here and plugging them in there. Wharton was notably wealthy and of course educated. Her writing contained meaning in everything, a lot like Hawthorne’s usage of allegories with characters, actions, and setting.
When Hawthorne opens his “Hollow of the Three Hills,” with a fairytale scene, it creates this irony to what he is really saying. Wharton was known for discussing irony with her works to present the psychological effects of men on women. She also identified Hawthorne’s liking of the number three. He separated the story into three visions, demonstrating three different people the lady had affected. Likewise, Wharton’s “the Moving Finger,” changes the picture of Mrs. Grancy three times, just as Ralph experiences the phases of life. She also has three central men Ralph, Claydon, and the narrator.
The lady in Hawthorne’s story is overcome with guilt and sin, which is what he was trying to express, the flaws in humans. Similarly, Wharton also, shows the flaws of a man, Ralph, as he marries a second time to Mrs. Grancy who shortly passes on. Ralph leaves for a period of time and then returns deciding to age the portrait as he does. He makes the painting come to life so to say. In this way, Ralph is pushing away his friends, Claydon, by slowly killing Mrs. Grancy, aging her portrait and him when in the end the portrait tells him he will die. The lady, in Hawthorne’s story, pushed everyone away when she left and in the end killed herself with guilt.
Despite the age difference between Hawthorne and Wharton, Hawthorne’s writings made such an impact that they stood the test of time. These were read by people like Wharton who used his structure of three to place emphases on the purpose of the story, irony, and hidden meanings behind something such as a hollow for hell or a picture to represent the misconceptions that people have of others.
word count: 343
#23 by tfarland on October 3, 2012 - 7:22 pm
343 out of 350 minimum word count
#24 by Kelsie Polesky on September 29, 2012 - 8:54 pm
September 29, 2012
The similarities between Nathaniel Hawthornes’ “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and Edith Wharton’s “ The Moving Finger” makes it obvious that Hawthorne was an inspiration to Wharton. Their form of writing, as well as the underlying themes prove just that.
“The Hollow of the Three Hills” begins with an eeriness that does not leave the reader the whole story. This romantic style of writing is also key to “The Moving Finger.” By giving stories supernatural type plots, the authors can give unrealistic things new life. For example, Wharton used a portrait of Mrs. Grancy as the main object in her story. Most portraits are just that, portraits. Mr. Grancy, however, took it as more than that and used it to exhibit his wife throughout the years, ultimately changing it three times to age her. The wife who is dead, now has life.
Hawthorne represents evil by using an old woman. This woman seems as though she should not even be real. And maybe she is not; she is representing the devil. The devil is supposed to be ‘other-worldly.’ For a woman to come into direct contact with the devil, it is unusual. Hawthorn as well as Wharton, gives a supernatural twist to everyday lives.
In the actual title of Hawthornes story as well as in the story, the number three is presented; three hills. Wharton uses the number three is the main idea of her story; three portrait changes. Obviously the number three can not be looked at as uncoincedental, but the similarity is there. The similarity lies in the fact that the number three determines the most important things in both of the stories.
Both the authors do not directly say why the characters are the way they are. It is implied in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” that the woman cheated on her husband, leaving him and her child, ultimately killing the child. In “The Moving Finger” the reader realizes that the two men are left mentally hindered due to Mrs. Grancys portrait and her death. The authors both left room for the readers to come to their own conclusions about the characters and what lies in their future.
Word Count: 363
#25 by Caitlyn Baker on September 29, 2012 - 8:28 pm
An avid fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works, Edith Wharton studied them and mirrored some of the stylistic approaches and Gothic sensations exhibited in them. Though Hawthorne mainly concerned himself in themes related to religion and the supernatural, Wharton’s ideas revolved around the idea of society and the female’s position within society.
While Wharton is more verbose in her short story “The Moving Finger”, she uses a method similar to that in Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” in that she quickly jumps into the thick of the plot, leaving out details that are unnecessary to the advancement of the plot, such as the manner in which both of Grancy’s wives died. Wharton also uses foreshadowing in her story, such as the notion the narrator has that Mrs. Grancy is waiting for their return in the library, as if she still lived. Also foreshadowed is the peculiarity of Mr. Grancy in referring to his late wife in the present tense.
Wharton also uses the number three as a significant motif. There were three years of marriage between Mr. Grancy and his second wife, three paintings created in total, and the presence of Mrs. Grancy’s ghost was revealed in the third part of the story.
Both stories also include an idea of the ownership of a soul. Hawthorne’s story has the young woman selling her soul to the witch-like old woman while in Wharton’s Mr. Grancy and Claydon believe that Mrs. Grancy’s spirit or soul rightfully belongs to him and not the other. The possession of the soul is seen as more important than the container in which it belongs, the portrait or the person. Both were seen as one in the same.
Wharton seems to hint at an affair between Mrs. Grancy and Claydon, showcased in the painting’s expression of love that Claydon managed. Mr. Grancy himself wondered how Claydon managed to paint the expression only seen by him, or so he believed. Hawthorne’s writings featured the character of an adulterous woman, his “Hollow of the Three Hills” being no exception to this. Both authors showcase the results of affairs on the characters, but Wharton is more concerned with the idea that women are seen as little more than objects in the eyes of men than Hawthorne is, which possibly comes from the fact that she herself is a woman and is drawing from different experiences that Hawthorne would not have been able to have.
#26 by Brooke Young on September 29, 2012 - 4:27 pm
Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” takes aspects and was influenced by Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” with this similarities come about such as gothic and mysterious qualities, psychological effects, outward appearance versus reality, and the grimness of death. Both start out with death, in “The Moving Finger” the man’s wife had died at a premature age leaving him with grief which is similar to Hawthorne’s story of the ladies daughter dying, obviously dying as a daughter is a young age, therefore prematurely also. Both come around full circle with the death of the main person, in “The Moving Finger” Mr. Grancy, the man/husband, and “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the lady/mother. The gothic and mysterious qualities go throughout the entire plot of both stories, in the “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the old women has the cloak and old decrepit look to her which gives that element to the story “…and the latter drew a cloak about the lady’s face, so that she was in the darkness.”(2) In “The Moving Finger” the gothic mysterious quality is shown through the picture once it has been altered to show age “I stood speechless, my gaze travelling from his worn grief-beaten features to the panted face above.” (78) Psychological effects are a really prominent idea in both of these; the lady has grief and depression problems from losing her daughter while Mr. Grancy has coping issues with the loss of his wife and uses the picture as a way to hold on to her. With these they are both in bad places mentally leading to the rash decisions they made, the women with spying on her family and going to the witch and Mr. Grancy to alter the picture of his wife. The biggest similarity however is the outward appearance versus reality; in “The Hollow of Three Hills” the older women appears to be helping the younger women with her issues when in reality she is a witch that takes her life; “But when the old women stirred the kneeling lady she lifted not her head.”(4) In “The Moving Finger” Mr. Grancy’s house seems welcoming but as soon as they made their way to the library where the painting was kept the aura changes. “Then, all in a moment, as Grancy opened the door, the feeling vanished and a kind of resistance met me on the threshold.” (77) Also, this feeling of appearance versus reality is seen with his picture of Mrs. Grancy, overall it has the reality of being just a picture however Mr. Grancy sees it as personality or spirit of his wife who has passed. Through these elements we can say that Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” definitely takes the qualities of Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and as said in How to Read Literature like a Professor, all plot lines come from a previous one.
Word Count (484)
#27 by Vero Stewart on September 29, 2012 - 3:14 pm
AICE English Literature 6
29 September 2012
A well-educated woman, Edith Wharton was familiar with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works. It is therefore no surprise that there are similar components between “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and “The Moving Finger”, as the inspiration from Hawthorne and others naturally carried into her own works.
The number three is the leitmotif in both works, a nod to the number’s numerous meanings including elements of Christianity and supernatural mystery. “The Hollow of the Three Hills” presents its motif of three in the title – there are three hills. As Hawthorne surrounds the hills with a golden, divine light that the lady often looks to with hope – and as they are separate from the evil and decay in the hollow – the hills are representative of the holy Trinity. There are three ‘visions’ produced by the witch, which ultimately destroy the lady. The conflict in “The Moving Finger” revolves around three characters that are irrevocably tangled in each other’s lives. Mrs. Grancy is the support for both the men, the power that extends their abilities tenfold. When she, the essential third, dies and leaves two, both men crumble mentally. Also, the portrait of Mrs. Grancy is changed by Claydon three times.
Guilt manifests itself as a disease, both mentally and physically. The lady in “Hollow” is graceful and fair – yet she is marred, “smitten with an untimely blight” (1). She is aware of her sin, and has come down into the hollow to receive her punishment. This punishment is fixed, and cannot be undone. Her choice of punishment is to listen, three times, to the voices of those she left, in a futile search for forgiveness (the cure to guilt). By doing so, her fate is sealed, and she is overcome by death as she listens to the desperation of those she wronged. Mr. Grancy is, too, diseased with guilt. In the five years between his wife’s death and his return to the house, he became a “gray-haired broken man” (79), continually plagued by health scares. He expresses remorse over his jokes with his wife that the painting made her his prisoner, in case she ever left him, and so he orders Claydon to make the portrait older. Claydon’s guilt over his lustful and adulterous thoughts of Mrs. Grancy’s portrait transform into a curious mixture of madness and murder, as he paints death into the eyes of his subject and so kills Mr. Grancy.
Hawthorne and Wharton are well-known for their usage of the supernatural (or unnatural) and a twisted reality. Neither stories become what readers are initially led to believe. “Hollow” has an opening line reminiscent of the Grimm Brother fairytales – “In those strange old times, when fantastic dreams and madmen’s reveries were realized among the actual circumstances of life…” (1). Yet as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that story is anything but a fairy tale. The ‘princess’ or lady is stained and marked by a failed marriage and affair. She is trapped with the evil witch, and will not be saved by goodness because she must bear responsibility for her actions. Goodness prevails – in a distressing manner, as the sinner has been dealt with according to her sin, and the payment fulfilled. The light and airy nature of fairy tales is twisted by Hawthorn for ironic effect. While Wharton does not style “The Moving Finger” after a fairy tale, she too uses the twisting of reality to express a sense of irony. The painting, a marvel of beauty beyond compare, inspires murder and guilty grief. It is also ironic that the Grancy’s inside joke of the portrait being a prisoner and that one day Mrs. Grancy would leave him.
Word count: 610
#28 by Benjamin Ayers on September 29, 2012 - 2:51 pm
Though their lifetimes were separated by a number of years, Wharton’s mimicry of Hawthorne’s style is evident in similarities between their stories “The Hollow of the Three Hills” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The Moving Finger” by Edith Wharton. Being a very proud fan of Hawthorne’s work, Wharton’s method of similar theme, symbols and irony seem to build off of his gothic and somewhat paranormal writing style, as she herself denounced many Victorian ideas of her time.
One of the more prominent similarities between these two specific pieces is the presence of the theme of adultery, however, one showing the effects of one woman’s adultery on those around her and close to her, while the other shows how the death of the woman has led to effects on both the man she was married to, and the man she had her affair with. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the woman is stricken with guilt as she realizes the error of what she has done and the story follows her point of view as she receives her reward of punishment and finally her own undoing. She is so overcome with grief she is willing to die to receive some form of punishment or retribution to feel spiritual relief of some sort, saying “I will do your bidding though I die”. However, Grancy from “The Moving Finger”, is made out to have had a clean conscience when she was alive, not being stricken with the untimely blight of sin and the guilt that follows, but rather, the blight of being objectified by those around her. In life, the story suggests, Mrs. Grancy was extremely unhappy in her relationship with her husband due to his use of her to help him live his life to the fullest. The irony of this situation is that while that same objectifying pushed her away from Mr. Grancy and toward the painter Claydon, in the end Claydon looks to the painting he made of her and says “but now she BELONGS to me” suggesting his own objectification through the object painting of her belonging to him. While both stories contain the same theme of the sin adultery, both are told through the eyes of the guilty and both show the effects it has on others, the guilty in one are the men who have led the woman to her adulterous ways, and in the other it is the woman who seems to have acted through her own selfish agenda.
Usage of symbols and the motif of three in both stories are extremely prominent and sometimes both suggest a sort of paranormal undertone. In Hawthorne’s the motif is present in the three hills that surround the hollow she is trapped in, representing the trinity that rejects her and waits for her to receive punishment, and in the three visions that the old witch sees. In Wharton’s it is seen in both the three restorations of the painting and in the triangle of love and deceit between Mr. and Mrs. Grancy and Claydon. The usage of this motif helps to create a more paranormal feel to the story, helping to make the giant allegory of Hawthorne’s more apparent and the message of the painting in Wharton’s recognizable. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills” everything most likely is a representation for something else; the deep basin and phallic symbol of the tall tree hinting of an affair, the dead vegetation suggesting that nothing came of it, the fallen tree “with no green successor from its roots” suggesting that there has been no life in her life afterward, the deathly woman representing the devil, retribution or death, and so on. Wharton’s main symbolic device however is her usage of the painting to represent the blight of the woman herself, always objectified by the men of her life, even after death when one would assume her objectified value would be null.
Word Count: 651
#29 by christiemarks on September 29, 2012 - 2:37 pm
AICE English Lit
29 September 2012
Though years apart, the influence Wharton may have received from Hawthorne’s work is incredibly evident. When reading “The Moving Finger,” multiple similarities emerge that introduce similar themes, rhetorical elements, and writing strategies to that of “The Hollow of the Three Hills.”
In both Hawthorne and Wharton’s works, the gothic element is prominent, as well as the ideal of a human’s soul or spirit. Hawthorne’s short story is largely focused on evil, sin, the selling of a soul, and most obviously, witchcraft. The young woman is described as a troubled character, who is seeking some sort of relief for the terrible sin that she committed. Throughout the entire process of reaching a point of relief, or further punishment, she is frightened of what is to come. She glances up at the three hills once, seeking a way of escaping what she knows is to come. This is largely a symbol of her looking to heaven, as she knows she is venturing to hell. This heavy theme of what is within a human is constant, and continues as Hawthorne moves on in the story to describe the witchcraft and visions that the young woman comes to endure. Here he gives description of the gothic, hell-like place, at the hollow of the hills. He gives a description of an almost immortal lady. He focuses heavily on the dark side of humans on earth. His ideas focus on the sinister parts of human nature and spirit. Wharton continues this gothic-like theme as she relates her story to the ghost side of evil. The spirit of Mrs. Grancy seems to haunt Mr. Grancy and Claydon’s characters. This heavy theme of ghosts and spirits resembles the elements that Hawthorne often included in his novels. While the story may not relate to the idea of sin quite as prominently, the ideas of death and life after death does. Both stories examine the dark side of humans. They discuss the guilt, as the young woman experiences and Claydon comes to feel; sin, and idea of evil that exists. They add a supernatural twist to an otherwise relatively normal plot.
Another distinct theme that the two share is the effects of relationships. Hawthorne discusses the relationships between the young woman and her family. Also, the negative impact of the relationship with the young woman and the man she adulterated. Wharton focuses on the relationships between the three main characters. This love triangle is the very essence of the story. Both consider human interactions and its long term effects on the spirits of those involved.
Also similar to Hawthorne, Wharton utilizes the motif of the number ‘three.’ In Hawthorne’s, the three hills and the three visions all symbolize a prominent ‘three’ in his life, the Holy trinity. Because of his obsession with religion, the number three is incredibly valuable to him, and is portrayed throughout this story that focuses on sin and guilt. Wharton utilizes this number as well, as she describes the three years that Mr. and Mrs. Grancy were wed. Also, the love triangle, previously mentioned, is the relationship between three people. While this could just be a coincidence, the similarities between Hawthorne and Wharton make those chances highly unlikely.
Last but not least, the two use vivid depictions of the settings in the stories. Hawthorne goes into paragraph after paragraph of description as he describes the Hollow of the three hills. He explains the green putrid color of the pond, the ancient fallen trees, and the light that surrounds the almost holiness of the hills. His usage of color is expounding as it paints a very clear picture to assist in creating an overall mood. Wharton also is descriptive in many of her novels, and also in “The Moving Finger.” She explains the room that the portrait lived in with simple phrases like, “The room faced the west…” (77) The simplicity in this description adds to the overall complex picture she paints. But while this is a mundane explanation, she also packs the story with intricate portrayals of surroundings. Most of the story is made up of this complexivity, which is very similar to Hawthorne’s writing style.
Though a generation apart, Wharton comes to prove that literature, no matter how old, is still very much alive. Every writer is influenced by someone, and throughout the comparison of these two short stories, it is evident that Wharton shaped her own writing with the now commonly known ideas of Hawthorne.
Word Count: 741
#30 by Paul Baker on September 29, 2012 - 1:41 pm
Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and Wharton’s The Moving Finger share many similarities that show Hawthorne’s influence on Wharton’s writing. It is clear that many elements of romance writing, and the motif of three found in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” share parallel uses in “The Moving Finger”.
Romance style and structure is the main idea Hawthorne uses to separate his writing from reality, the first few sentences of “The Hollow of the Three Hills” establishes the story as a supernatural being. “the other was an ancient and meanly-dressed woman, of ill-favored aspect, and so withered, shrunken, and decrepit, that even the space since she began to decay must have exceeded the ordinary term of human existence.” (page one) This element is very much alike the one created in “The Moving Finger”. Both Authors use the romantic, supernatural style as an allegory of a greater meaning. In the case of “The Hollow of the Three Hills” a meeting between a beautiful woman and a witch represents man and the Devil, “The Moving Finger” uses a changing painting to show how women are seen as objects in society. Both however, use this abstract, romantic storytelling to convey the message of a guilty human conscious among all people.
In addition to structure, the motif of three is found quite often in both author’s stories. For example, in “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the three hills themselves represent the Holy Trinity; remember that the story itself is an allegory for consequence and sin, man and Satan. Another example of the motif of three is how the woman has three distinct visions, she sees her parents, her husband, and her child out of guilt. The motif of three links Christianity to guilt, almost as if Hawthorne is implying that we are guilty because of it. There is no doubt Wharton was influenced by Hawthorne’s writing, she read and studied many of his works; perhaps most interesting, is how her story “The Moving Finger” is centered around a motif of three just as “The Hollow of the Three Hills” is. Wharton uses the three paintings to represent the three stages of life, and how women are seen as possessions.
#31 by Erica Eden on September 29, 2012 - 1:39 pm
While reading “The Moving Finger” the reader can tell that Edith Wharton definitely was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills.” Both stories reflect similar elements of style, and incorporate much of the same effects. We see a mysterious and almost supernatural quality in both stories, with the witch used by Hawthorne and the essence of the painting used by Wharton. The witch is an old, haggard and seemingly evil character who knows all. She exhibits deviltry in the way that she shows the woman her sins, and doesn’t feel any sympathy towards her, then chuckles even after the woman is dead. The painting in “The Moving Finger” is similar in its possession of supernatural qualities. Even after the wife is dead, her spirit seems to live on within the picture. Claydon portrays the evil in this story, as he repaints the portrait to show Mr. Grancy’s death in the woman’s eyes. Claydon does this for his own selfish interests, so he can inherit the portrait when Mr. Grancy dies and restore it to its original quality. We also see the similarity of death and sin, and what psychological effects it can have on a person. The woman in the hollow is a sinner and goes to the witch in order to receive some sort of absolution. The woman has committed adultery and in turn, left her husband suffering, her parents mourning, and her daughter dead. She seeks out reprieve but ultimately the sin cannot be forgiven, and God is portrayed as the final punisher. In Wharton’s story, Mr. Grancy is haunted by his wife’s spirit and wants her to always be with him. Claydon paints the portrait to reflect Mr. Grancy’s death, and this is a way of foreshadowing his death. We see characters getting pleasure out of death and sadness, the witch and Claydon. Similar motifs are also utilized throughout both pieces such as the number three. This occurs in the hollow with the three hills, which come to symbolize father, son, and holy spirit, and with the three visions that the witch presents to the woman. This also occurs in Wharton’s tale with the three supposed wives of the man; the first wife, the second wife, and the second wife’s spirit, and in the three times that the painting of the wife is redone. This motif is effective in tying in the balance of three and a religious element in both stories. Lastly, we see an outward appearance versus reality. In Hawthorne’s story, we initially picture the witch as some fortune-telling being who is trying to help the woman see her faults, when in the end the witch ends up getting pleasure from taking the woman’s life. It may appear to us that she will receive absolution, but in reality, the sin prevails. In Wharton’s story we also see this effect, mainly given off by the painting. Mr. Grancy thinks the painting is his wife, and continues living his life as if she’s alive and they’re growing old together when in actuality, it is merely a painting and this illusion of life is not real.
Word Count: 521
#32 by caseygentile on September 28, 2012 - 10:23 pm
AICE Lit P. 4
28 Sept. 2012
Edith Wharton studied Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writings and it heavily influenced her own writings. The two authors, however, each had a different concern; Hawthorne with religion and Wharton with society, specifically the confinement of women. Each author aimed to explore the nature of each of their respective focal point. This is seen predominately through both of their uses of ambiguity, morality, the number three, and the focus on the effects versus the actual situation.
In “The Hollow of the Three Hills,” Hawthorne begins his story by telling of a young woman with a “plight” (1). By beginning his short story with such a vague description of the lady’s guilt and sin, this immediately has the effect of a mysterious mood and atmosphere. Likewise, Wharton uses this ambiguity to describe the relationship between Claydon and Mrs. Grancy in “The Moving Finger.” The reader does not know if the two had an affair, but it is certainly brought up as a possibility. For example, Grancy says that his wife was painted by Claydon with the same look that she gave him when they were alone, thus one may be led to believe the two had a romantic relationship (78).
It could be thought that Wharton’s use of the number three was inherited from her studying of Hawthorne. His use of the number three is seen as religious symbolism. For example, the three visions of the witch and the three hills that encompass the hollow. The three hills are seen as the Holy Trinity and it is from this symbol that the young woman realizes she must confront her sin because it is so “ordained” by the hills (1). In Wharton’s short story, the number three is seen significantly in the love triangle of the three main characters.
The two authors both focus primarily on the effects of an event rather than the actual situation. For example, Hawthorne never explicitly described what the young woman’s sin was or her daughter died. Instead, he focused on the implications of these deaths on the people that surrounded them. For example, he effectively portrayed the effects of the woman’s sin through the witch’s three sins and through her own moral internal conflict that she undergoes while in the hollow. Moreover, Wharton similarly explores the psychological ramifications of Mrs. Grancy’s death on the remaining characters of the story, while avoiding depicting the actual occurrence.
Word Count: 407
#33 by Amanda Branson on September 28, 2012 - 5:02 pm
Hawthorne’s “The Hollow of the Three Hills” and Wharton’s “The Moving Finger” have three major similarities in their story. These similarities would be the theme, the leit motif of the repeated number three and the idea of appearances versus reality or what is inside versus what is portrayed on the outside. The theme is the psychological effects of guilt and sin on a person. In Hawthorne’s story, the young woman is attempting to lift a heavy burden of sin off of her shoulders. By his use of nature imagery, we get the idea that she has engaged in adultery. The visions the witch shows her are the effects of her sin on those she was close to. Her parents for one are suffering in grief not only because of their daughter’s choices to leave, but also the fact that because of that, their granddaughter had to suffer and have her life taken from her. Her husband is trying to cope with his losses but ends up in a mental institution trying to make sense of it all. She herself is afflicted with pain and guilt when she sees the vision of her daughter’s funeral and the guests there are speaking badly of her and ruining any reputation she had, and it ends up taking her life.
In the same way, the characters in Wharton’s story, are dealing with a similar situation. Mr. Grancy finally finds the woman of his dreams. His friends love her and their lives are fun and happy. His friend Claydon paints a portrait of Mrs. Grancy and captures her perfectly. Claydon would return to their house often to see his painting. When Mrs. Grancy dies, Mr. Grancy asks Claydon to alter the painting in order to allow Mrs. Grancy to grow old with her husband. Claydon does as he asks but is not happy about it. Near the end he paints her with a look that she knows her husband is going to die. Grancy ends up dying and is okay with it because she knew it was going to happen, because she is okay with it, so is he. However, Claydon painted her with that look in a way to kill Grancy so he would leave the picture to him. Once Claydon obtains the picture, he restores it to its original beauty. He was in love not with the painting, but with the woman herself. And now they are able to be together. In a way she, although deceased, committed adultery as well; she had an affair with Claydon. And it ended up being the death of her husband.
The motif of the number three repeated is shared in both stories. In Hawthorne’s novel, there are three hills, symbolic of the Trinity. There are also three visions that the young woman hears. In “The Moving Finger”, three is seen in the number of times Claydon restores the painting.
The third main similarity of the two stories is the idea of appearances v. reality. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, it appears that the older woman is trying to help the younger woman, but it comes to light that she ends up taking the young girls life. It also appears to the reader that the younger woman is seeing all of the visions when in reality, she is merely hearing them take place. In Edith Wharton’s story, when the narrator returns to the house with Grancy after the death of Mrs. Grancy, from the outside everything looks normal. He describes the doors of the house as opening into the normal friendly and warm house and expecting that atmosphere. When the doors do open, that is the exact opposite of what takes place, the house now is empty and cold on the inside and not as welcoming. The painting is also somewhat of an illusion. Grancy sees it as his wife in a spiritual form, when in all actuality; it is still only a painting.
#34 by Amanda Branson on September 28, 2012 - 5:02 pm
Word count: 659
#35 by Lisa Hamman on September 27, 2012 - 11:12 pm
Edith Wharton respected Nathaniel Hawthorne as a writer and read into many of his works, even using the highest form of flattery and copying some of his methods. It makes sense then that “The Hollow of the Three Hills” (Hawthorne) and “The Moving Finger” (Wharton) would have similar elements of writing, mood, symbols, and subjects. Both of these writers utilize irony and mysteriousness to enhance their writing through the suspension of disbelief. Also present in both short stories is the purpose to show the psychological effects that guilt has on the human conscience.
The most striking correspondence between these two accounts is the use of the symbolic number three as a motif. Hawthorne and Wharton both repeatedly use the number three to symbolize and describe a variety of things. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills” we can see the number three in the three hills themselves (representing the Holy Trinity) and the number of visions the lady has. In the “The Moving Finger” this motif appears in the number of times the painting is refurbished and in the love triangle present in this story. Another possibility for the significance of three in this story could be the “three” wives that Ralph Grancy had: his first wife that died, his second wife while she was alive, and his spiritual wife – that is, his second wife’s ghost that he constantly envisioned by his side. The use of the number three adds religious aspect/references and completeness to both pieces, and shows how Wharton emulates Hawthorne’s writing style.
Another significant area of similarity between these selections is the inclusion of supernatural elements. Hawthorne’s tale features a witch and all manner of deviltry, evil, and dark magic. Wharton’s love triangle expounds on the existence of Mrs. Grancy’s spirit or ghost after her death. These contribute to the mood of mystery, and the balance between legend and reality.
Both stories explore guilt and sin and their effects on the human soul. The lady in Hawthorne’s story and Ralph from Wharton’s both feel regret but for different reasons. The lady feels her remorse when she undergoes punishment through the visions and understands the true depth of her sin (adultery and deserting her family). Ralph on the other hand seems to have committed no real sin – it is a sin that he created himself. He feels he has left his wife behind by aging, something he could not control, and does not want to feel disconnected from her. Ultimately both characters are seemingly undone mentally as the stories progress. Claydon, too, the painter from “The Moving Finger” faces guilt and regret as he realizes he must alter his masterpiece and in the knowledge that he loves his friend’s wife, a woman that isn’t his. If Claydon commits any sin in this account it is that of coveting the wife and his own personal idea of sin: changing the painting and aging the beauty that Mrs. Grancy had.
Relationship problems are present in both Hawthorne’s and Wharton’s pieces. A sort of love triangle can also be noticed in each. In “The Hollow of the Three Hills” the lady has had an affair and left the husband, who tragically still loves her, thus going mad. One could suggest then that there is a triangle between the lady, her husband, and the new man she’s taken an interest in. In “The Moving Finger” there is the poor relationship between Ralph and his first wife and the ironic (obvious to us, most probably unknown to him) love triangle between himself, his wife, and Claydon.
The final similarity to be addressed is that of the female characters seen in each work. Both the lady in Hawthorne’s story and Mrs. Grancy from Wharton’s story are described as beautiful, youthful women, the lady being “graceful in form and fair of feature” (1) and Mrs. Grancy being described as “the most beautiful and most complete of explanations” (74). These characters have their differences; however, as we recognize that the lady is stained and guilt-ridden while Mrs. Grancy appears sinless and happy in life. One is the fallen victim to temptation, also suffering from an untimely blight; the other is the victim of being the untimely blight in someone’s life (Ralph’s).
#36 by Tymarie Cruz G on September 27, 2012 - 5:00 pm
Tymarie Cruz Gonzalez
While Edith Wharton and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote these two short stories, The Hollow of the Three Hills (Hawthorne) and The Moving Finger (Wharton) at different years and have different writing styles, the two short stories have some similarities. Both authors are ambiguous on their foreshadowing and storytelling, the details they give are chosen carefully so foreshadowing keeps the mind open and wondering what is going to happen. Hawthorne does this in his descriptions of the characters, “One was a lady, graceful in form and fair of feature, though pale and troubled, and smitten with an untimely blight…” (1); Wharton shows this when she writes, “…When Claydon painted her he caught just the look she used to lift to min when I came in- I’ve wondered, sometimes, at his knowing how she looked when she and I were alone…” (78). They focus on the effects of a big and tragic moment in life, although they are different in each story (Hawthorne with the effects of the young lady’s sin and Wharton with the effects of Mrs. Grancy dying). Interestingly, the motif of three is in both short stories. Hawthorne with his three hills and three visions; Wharton with the picture being redone three times, the love triangle, and the three years of marriage before Mrs. Grancy died. Wharton and Hawthorne talk about guilt, Hawthorne more than Wharton since his short story is about guilt and sin, while Wharton’s is more about how women were treated. Wharton establishes this with her character Claydon, he repaints Mrs. Grancy’s picture for Mr. Grancy but does not speak to him afterwards, and Claydon purposely painted Mrs. Grancy to look as if she knew Mr. Grancy was going to die; which can lead to the conclusion of Claydon and Mrs. Grancy having an affair when he drew her painting, because of what Wharton had mentioned (the quote with Mr. Grancy wondering how Claydon knew the look Mrs. Grancy gave him). After doing this Claydon acknowledges what he did was cruel but, “’it was for his sake not for mine’” (83), he tries to feel what he did was not wrong. Another thing that can show this is how the painting speaks to him, which is why he decides to repaint it. Hawthorne, on the other hand shows guilt through his young lady character, with his mentioning of her being troubled and her willingness of selling her soul, “’There is this weight in my bosom that I cannot away with, and I have come to inquire of their welfare’” (2). Both writers show solitarily in the short stories, Mr. Grancy was left alone and then Claydon, the only thing they had was the painting of Mrs. Grancy, and the young lady left everything because of her sin, her husband suffered from madness which in sense makes him alone.
Word Count: 471
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2nd rough draft (Structural Analysis) due Fri, 9.14
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