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The House of the Seven Gables

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Summary Chapters 5–6
Summary Chapters 5–6

There are inherent contradictions in Holgrave’s character, too, and his conversation with Phoebe in the garden reveals that he is a polarizing figure, one who, for better or worse, disrupts the world around him. Holgrave’s politics are said to be wild and dangerous, but it is telling that Hepzibah, who seems to have such an austere conception of society, lets him live in her house; even her usual convictions seem to be overturned by this magnetic figure. In the garden, Phoebe’s hardy country goodness falls prey to Holgrave’s charm, making this figure, a man she would normally avoid, become increasingly compelling. Yet the real testament to how contradictory a figure Holgrave is comes when he shows Phoebe one of his daguerreotypes. The man in the daguerreotype, who strongly resembles Colonel Pyncheon, should be one of great pomp and respectability. Although he wears a smile, there is nothing amicable about this particular daguerreotype. Granted, the photograph’s subject, who in later chapters will prove to be Judge Pyncheon, supplies his own contradictions and hidden meanings, but it is noteworthy that these mysteries are first revealed by Holgrave.