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The House of the Seven Gables

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Hepzibah Pyncheon -  The current occupant of the house with seven gables, Hepzibah is Clifford’s sister and a cousin to Judge Pyncheon and Phoebe. With her face locked in a permanent scowl due to nearsightedness, Hepzibah scares customers away from her small store, but she has a good heart and takes good care of her brother.

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Clifford Pyncheon  -  Once a beautiful young man, Clifford is broken by the thirty years he spends in prison for allegedly murdering his uncle, old Jaffrey Pyncheon. Clifford returns more idiot than man, but Hebzibah and Phoebe’s care gradually brings him back to his wits. Clifford hates his cousin, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, who may have framed him for the murder of their uncle.

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Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon -  The wealthy, popular cousin of Hepzibah and Clifford, Judge Pyncheon is the closest to their stern ancestor, Colonel Pyncheon. With his brilliant smile, he is viewed, by himself and by others, as a pillar of the community, but his is in fact a dark and greedy nature. Most likely the true culprit in the death of old Jaffrey Pyncheon, the Judge is resolved to acquire the rest of the dead man’s missing property.
Holgrave -  A young lodger in Hepzibah’s home, Holgrave earns his living by making an early kind of photograph known as a daguerreotype. Holgrave’s politics are very liberal and revolutionary, but he is kind despite the strange and lawless company he keeps. No one knows that Holgrave is actually a descendant of the first Matthew Maule. This link has given him hypnotic powers, but does not prevent him from falling in love with Phoebe Pyncheon.

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Phoebe Pyncheon -  Although she lacks the aristocratic upbringing of her cousins Hepzibah and Clifford, Phoebe Pyncheon is a young, vibrant, and beautiful young woman who brings a note of cheer to the gloomy Pyncheon house. The only person capable of consoling Clifford, Phoebe’s presence brightens the whole mansion. Her good nature runs deep and conceals great wisdom and strength.

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Colonel Pyncheon -  A bastion of the town’s Puritan community two centuries before the action of the novel unfolds. Colonel Pyncheon’s greed and heartlessness are responsible for the Pyncheon curse. The Colonel, who is the first member of his family to die of apoplexy, a sudden kind of brain hemorrhage, comes to symbolize all that is wrong with the Pyncheons. His portrait looms over the future inhabitants of his home.
Matthew Maule  -  (the elder) A simple farmer in the 1600s, Maule is hanged for witchcraft, most likely at the instigation of Colonel Pyncheon. His stolen land serves as the site of the Pyncheon house. Maule’s curse on the Pyncheons is said to continue to haunt them.
Matthew Maule  -  (the younger) The grandson of the original Matthew Maule and the son of Thomas Maule, who built the house of the seven gables, the young Matthew Maule nurses a powerful grudge against the Pyncheon family. The young Maule’s imprudence with his hypnotic powers unintentionally causes the death of young Alice Pyncheon.
Alice Pyncheon -  The daughter of Gervayse Pyncheon, Alice’s life is destroyed after she falls under the hypnotic spell of the younger Matthew Maule. The sounds of her harpsichord are said to still haunt the house of the seven gables.
Gervayse Pyncheon -  The grandson of Colonel Pyncheon and father of Alice, Gervayse’s attempts to retrieve his family’s deed to a tract of land in Maine cost his daughter her life.
Uncle Venner -  A colorful figure in the village, Uncle Venner preaches a philosophy of undaunted optimism in spite of his poverty. He provides friendship to the lonely Clifford and Hepzibah, as well as to Phoebe and Holgrave.
Old Jaffrey Pyncheon -  The uncle of Clifford and the Judge, old Jaffrey Pyncheon dies of an apoplectic fit after finding young Jaffrey rummaging through his notes.
Thomas Maule  -  The carpenter who builds the house of the seven gables on land stolen from his own family. It is believed that he steals the Pyncheons’ deed to the Maine land and hides it somewhere within the house.
Two workmen -  The two workmen, who unintentionally mortify Hepzibah with their open discussion of her shop’s prospects, depict the New England working class.
The organ-grinder -  A traveling musician whose act includes a monkey and a moving diorama.
Judge Pyncheon’s son  -  (unnamed) Judge Pyncheon’s estranged son, whose timely death from cholera leaves the Judge’s inheritance to Clifford.
An old gentleman -  An old gentleman who strikes up conversation with Clifford and Hepzibah on a train, and is repulsed by Clifford’s newly revolutionary sentiments.

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