The House of the Seven Gables

by: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hepzibah Pyncheon

Characters Hepzibah Pyncheon

Hepzibah Pyncheon is the last in a long line of Pyncheon aristocrats. Hepzibah personifies the pitfalls of this aristocracy, both financially, as evidenced by her having to open and tend a shop, and spiritually, as shown by the permanent scowl on her face. Her extreme passivity makes it difficult to sympathize with her: the melodramatic way in which she mourns having to open her shop is treated with great disdain by the narrator, and her neighbors seem eager to see her fail. Hepzibah has good intentions and a good heart; she manages to convey only goodwill toward the children and customers who frequent her shop. The townspeople’s failure to recognize her beneficence stands as a rather searing commentary on the shallowness of New England society. Hepzibah is strongly devoted to her brother, Clifford, even though he is absent for thirty years and refuses even to look at her when he returns. By the end of the novel, Clifford comes to trust Hepzibah. He allows her to care for him. Clifford’s trust and dependence on Hepzibah serves as a sort of redemption for her. Clifford has come to recognize and appreciate Hepzibah’s kindness and devotion, and his trust elevates her to new heights of happiness and purpose. She even begins giving pocket money to her most loyal customer, little Ned Higgins.