full title The House of the Seven Gables
author Nathaniel Hawthorne
type of work Novel, romance
genre Satire, horror novel, moral fable
language American English
time and place written 1850–1851; Lenox, Massachusetts
date of first publication 1851
publisher James T. Fields
narrator Third-person omniscient
point of view Mostly told by third-person narrator, who occasionally ventures inside the perspective of Clifford, Hepzibah, Holgrave, or Phoebe.
tone Varies between a straightforward narration of the facts and the narrator’s gloomy, often sarcastic take on a number of issues and characters. The narrator relies heavily on village gossip for the story and hesitates to identify most “facts” as true.
tense Immediate past
setting (time) 1850s
setting (place) A town like those found in the county of Essex, Massachusetts.
protagonists Hepzibah Pyncheon, Phoebe Pyncheon, Clifford Pyncheon, Holgrave
major conflict Judge Pyncheon tries to coerce Clifford into giving him information regarding their uncle’s missing inheritance. Since Judge Pyncheon embodies the dogged ambition and greed that has characterized the Pyncheon family, his persecution of Clifford and Hepzibah plays out in microcosm their battle against the entire Pyncheon legacy.
rising action The Judge order Hepzibah to summon Clifford; Hepzibah fearfully goes to find Clifford
climax Judge Pyncheon dies of apoplexy before he can interrogate Clifford. The Judge’s death effectively ends the curse of the Pyncheons.
falling action Clifford and Hepzibah flee the house; Holgrave and Phoebe find the Judge’s body; all the protagonists leave the house of the seven gables for good
themes The sins of one generation are visited on the next; the deceptiveness of appearances; class status in New England
motifs Decay; mesmerism; the Judge’s smile
symbols The house; the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon; the chickens
foreshadowing The manner in which Judge Pyncheon is constantly compared to his ancestor Colonel Pyncheon foreshadows that the Judge will not be as pleasant as he seems, and hints at his death from apoplexy.
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