The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

3.3 63
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
     
 

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is, as the author notes in a short preface to the novel, a romance. The story thus, as Hawthorne states, includes fantastical occurrences, improbabilities, and attempts to connect the past with the present, sacrificing literal authenticity for more abstract truths. The connection between the past and the present is

Overview

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is, as the author notes in a short preface to the novel, a romance. The story thus, as Hawthorne states, includes fantastical occurrences, improbabilities, and attempts to connect the past with the present, sacrificing literal authenticity for more abstract truths. The connection between the past and the present is the most pressing of Hawthorne's concerns in The House of the Seven Gables, which begins with the checkered history of the eponymous house. The house was constructed during the Puritan era in New England by the prominent Colonel Pyncheon. He acquired the property through dubious means: the property on which the house was built was originally owned by Matthew Maule, a relatively obscure man who was often called a wizard. Soon after Matthew Maule refused to sell the property to Colonel Pyncheon, he was charged with witchcraft and burned; Colonel Pyncheon led the charge against him, and thus acquired the property. Years later, Colonel Pyncheon himself died suspiciously, with a bloody hand-print on his throat. The Pyncheon family seemed poised to remain prominent, yet the family steadily declined throughout the subsequent generations. However, every generation or so another Pyncheon appeared who seemed to possess Colonel Pyncheon's characteristics and would instill hope that the Pyncheons would return to their former glory once more. Yet the most recent notable occurrence in the family history was the murder of a Pyncheon by his nephew years before.

Having traced the family history, the story begins in its contemporary period in which Hepzibah Pyncheon, an elderly woman and the current resident of the House of the Seven Gables, opens a tiny penny store in the house. She has been forced to do so because of a decline in the family fortune that reduced her to poverty. Her most prominent feature is an angry scowl, caused not by any ill temper, but rather because of vision problems. Hepzibah has few customers in this little store. One little boy, Ned Higgins, buys tons of gingerbread from her. Another customer, the young daguerreotypist Mr. Holgrave, is a boarder in the House of the Seven Gables and Hepzibah's only friend. When she sees her cousin Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, she retreats back into the house. Jaffrey is the current embodiment of Colonel Pyncheon's spirit among the Pyncheons. She blames Jaffrey for the imprisonment of Clifford, the Pyncheon mentioned earlier who was convicted of murder and whose return from prison after many years is imminent. That night, Phoebe Pyncheon, a seventeen year old relative, arrives from the country, wishing to stay at the House of the Seven Gables. Phoebe immediately brightens the dreary and decrepit house, and even helps Hepzibah establish her store. Holgrave tells Phoebe the history of the Pyncheon family, in particular the controversy surrounding the supposedly murderous Clifford.

Clifford soon returns to the House of the Seven Gables after decades in prison. Now an old man, he is frail and weakly. A natural lover of beauty, he responds most strongly to the young and pretty Phoebe. Although he wishes to leave the house for Europe, Hepzibah admits to Clifford that they are now impoverished and she has been forced to open a shop.

The next day at the store, Judge Jaffrey meets Phoebe and insists that he see Clifford. He also attempts to kiss Phoebe, an action that she sternly refuses. Hepzibah refuses to allow Jaffrey access to Clifford, despite the Judge's offer to take Clifford off her hands. Yet after this episode things return to some sense of order. Clifford begins to rely on Phoebe for his sustenance. She dotes on him, for he needed so much love and had received so little. Clifford, Phoebe and Hepzibah essentially enclose themselves within the House of the Seven Gables. Their only visitors are Holgrave, who constantly observes the family as if he were collecting information, and Uncle Venner, a local elderly man largely considered mentally deficient. Clifford spends most of his time watching the outside world from the arched window of the house. When an organ-grinder stops and plays for him, Clifford suddenly goes into hysterics and nearly jumps off of the balcony.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013892149
Publisher:
DB Publishing House
Publication date:
02/29/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
335
File size:
720 KB

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The House of the Seven Gables 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
read this book years a go great book, you do no understand the book until you travel there and see the house in real life .. the house is something to see,to see how he lived hundred years ago is some to see. loved the hiding stair case .. they dont build houses and counting house like that any more.. any one who doesnt like the book needs to go see the house ..
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The House of the Seven Gables' is a more difficult but potentially more rewarding book than the more popular 'Scarlet Letter.' In 'The House of the Seven Gables' Hawthorne is, in effect, arguing with himself about man's nature--are we all subject to original sin? He sets the novel inside a mansion that has been cursed from its very beginning because its owner stole part of the house's land from someone who didn't have as much legal influence. Thus cursed, the house became a gloomy haven for a decayed and decadent aristocracy for the following 180 years, roughly 1665-1845. Like the house, are we cursed by original sin, condemned to repeat the patterns of our ancestors? (There are other interpretations of this book; I'm just leading with the most common one.) Hawthorne would best be described as a romantic realist. His narrative style is free of the supernatural but it is rife with symbolism--and often he will interpret the symbolism for you! There is not much 'action' in the conventional sense; a person could describe the goings-on in the book in ten minutes, including flashbacks. The novel's resolution will surprise you--but there still are some fundamental questions that haven't been answered! Hawthorne depends on descriptions for much of his work--e.g., how a particular rose looks on a particular morning, and that ties in with all the symbolism. As was common in Victorian times, sentence length was 2-3 times longer than today, with compound/ complex sentences the norm. If you can read Dickens without difficulty, though, you can read this book too. I'd recommend 'The House of the Seven Gables' for anyone interested in quality American literature, especially the early realist period, for people interested in how the Puritan strain haunted (haunts?) Americans, or indeed just for an interesting tale that is told with very little action, mostly mood and symbolism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book i like to curl up with on the sofa and read with an apple- and i dont give that praise lightly! I luv Hawthorne. Of course, im only on the 5th or 6th chapter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rated it 3only because of the garbled script, what i could read of this book was exelent
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This version has a lot of problems with words being misspelled. It is hard to read!
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Kara Smith More than 1 year ago
Completely agree after seeing the incredible property love this book even more!
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