The House of the Seven Gables
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Who would you say is the principal protagonist of The House of the Seven Gables? Who is the principal antagonist?
2. In the Preface, Hawthorne claims his book is a romance rather than a novel. Romances need not deal with “everyday, ordinary things” and usually incorporate fantastic elements. Do you think that The House of the Seven Gables is more of a romance or a novel? Should it be classified as another genre altogether?
3. Discuss the role of “fate” in the novel. How much of the Pyncheons’ bad luck is caused by fate, and how much results from their own actions and choices?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the presence of decay and decaying things in The House of the Seven Gables. What does decay symbolize in the novel?
2. Can Clifford be considered a good person? How is his goodness or malice reflected in the way he treats Phoebe and Hepzibah?
3. Discuss the role of hypnotism and mesmerism in The House of the Seven Gables.
4. How is Phoebe different from all the other characters in the novel? Does she resemble any one character more than the others? If so, why?
5. Why does Hepzibah continue to refuse the Judge’s offers of financial help? Can these offers be viewed as genuine, or are there by ulterior motives?
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