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The House of Seven Gables Analysis

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"The love of money is the root of all evil." This basic proverb it the foundation that Nathaniel Hawthorne builds upon in The House of Seven Gables. Like all of hawthorns works he exploits the evils of the puritan heart in is 1851 Romantic Fantasy. Hawthorne tells the story of the Pyncheon family's struggle to overcome the inherrated problem caused by the sins of their ancestors. The Pyncheon family, however, thinks the problems come from an inherrated curse that was placed on the family. The House of Seven Gables shows Hawthorne's opinion of the puritan heart (Gioia and Kennedy p. 196). He believed that their hearts were full of sin, and that they were blinded by the sin and evil so much that they could not even see that the problem lies with themselves. Hawthorne believed that the inherrated evil of the heart could only be overcome by true love.

To understand the family history, you must first meet the family. The Pyncheon family history starts in 1692 with the introduction of Colonel Pyncheon. He was a strict puritan whom everyone thought was a good godly man. However, his heart was greedy and evil. He had a man put to death so that he could gain the man's property. These sins and evils are passed down through several generations of Pyncheon's. In some generations the evil is stronger or weaker. The traits are passed until the later 1900's to an elderly woman named Hephzibah Pyncheon. Hephzibah, the great grand niece of the Colonel, did not inherit all of his evil traits. Her heart was not greedy or full of hate, but she feels that she is better that everyone else because she is a Pyncheon. By the time the novel focuses on her however, she is nearly seventy and she realizes that she must open up a penny shop to survive. Hephzibah's brother, Clifford, lives with her in the house of the seven gables. Clifford is an emotional man who has spent most of his life in prison for the murder of one of his uncles. Clifford, however is the only male Pyncheon who is not full of hate, he killed his uncle to stop his uncle from killing others. Clifford and Hephzibah live in the house and are occasionally visited by their cousin, Phoebe Pyncheon. Because Phoebe moved from another town, she is unaware of the supposed curse and the inherrated evil that is supposed to dwell in her. Phoebe is perfect in every way. She is beautiful, happy, and she has a good heart. She is responsible for "Snapping them out" of the supposed spell (

The "curse" that was placed on the Pyncheon's is accredited to the Maul family. The Maul family is the opposite of the Pyncheon's. They are poor, non-puritan, and not well respected. The patriarch of this family was a man named Matthew Maul. He is the man who is put to death by Colonel Pyncheon. He was rumored to be a wizard, and due to the unjust treatment of Matthew by the Pyncheon's all of the misfortune was blamed on him. The remainder of the Maul family was completely innocent but because they inherrated the reputation of Matthew Maul, they were forced to be on the lowest rung on the social ladder. One Maul though, John Holgrave Maul, simply known as Mr. Holgrave, was determined to change the reputation of the Mauls by making things right with the Pyncheon's. His actions show the reader that it is the Pyncheon family to blame, and they must take steps to correct themselves or they will suffer this self-inflicted curse forever. Mr. Holgrave later marries Phoebe (

The setting of this novel is the most important factor in the story because it is filled with symbolism of Hawthorne's views of the puritans. The novel spans almost two hundred years from 1700 to 1900, although most of the novel is set in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Even though the times change, the place stays the same. The House of the seven Gables is located in the average New England town on a very rich street. The house is very large and extravagant, but severely run down. The most remarkable thing about the house is the seven gables that surround the house. The house is really a huge mansion with several rooms. Many of these rooms have been shut up for years because the inhabitants fear that they may be haunted. The house is a representation of the entire Pyncheon family and their general attitudes. The Pyncheon's were once rich and well respected, but the "cures" caused them to dwindle in power, money, and number. Their reputation fell apart. They still however put on the same front and acted big and powerful when in all actuality they had ghosts in their hearts, and their lives took a physical toll on their lives (William James p. 306).

The House of the seven gables is surrounded by a garden. This is an unusual garden because it is void of life. There are tall flowers that are on the brink of death. They are stiff, rotten, weak, and yet they still have some color in them. They refuse to die. The odd thing about the flowers is that they have an irrigation system feeding them. This represents the fact that the problem facing the Pyncheon's lies right in front of them, but they are so stubborn that they refuse to look down at their feet for the answer. The garden also contains pigs and chickens. Both of these animals are sickly and almost dead. They refuse to eat. This is also a representation of the Pyncheon's, other that Phoebe, because they refuse to do the obvious and stop living by their sinful hearts. They would rather die out than change and accept reality (William James p. 306-307).

There are many other symbols that appear throughout the area of the house. The Pyncheon house was built beside the original Maul residence, which the Colonel tore down to build his house. There was a beautiful spring beside the Maul's house known as Mauls well. As soon as the Colonel built his house the water became polluted due to the fact that the Colonel had his basement dug too deep. This represents the Pyncheon's disruption of all that is good. The sinful pride of the Pyncheon's ruined each Pyncheon's life, just like the sinful pride of the Colonel ruined the Well (William James p. 307).

The action of the story begins when Hephzibah 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. Hephzibah has few customers in this little store. One little boy, Ned Higgins, buys tons of gingerbread from her. Another customer, the young photographer, Mr. Holgrave, is a boarder in the House of the Seven Gables and Hephzibah's only friend. When her cousin Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon comes to visit her, she retreats back into the house. Jaffrey is the current embodiment of



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