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The House of the Seven Gables - Hawthornes Personal Reflections

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Nathanial Hawthorne. Considered to be one of the greatest American writers of the 19th

century. But did you know that he hated portraits, and it is now thought that he was a

mild manic-depressive? Born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. A descendant

of a

long puritan line of Hathorne's. His ancestry included his great-great grandfather, John

Hathorne who was a judge at the Salem witch trials 112 years before Nathanial was born.

Judge John Hathorne charged many with the crime of witchcraft,and condemned them to

their deaths. Nathanial was embaressed by this and changed the spelling of his last name

from Hathorne to Hawthorne. A Lot of his family history, life experiences and where he

lived influenced his writing greatly.

Hawthorne had a cousin, Susannah Ingersoll. When he was young, in Salem, he

would frequently visit her in her mansion, she lived there alone. The house had a secret

staircase and once had seven gables. This house, Nathanial visited in his youth, was his

inspiration for the house in his book " The House Of The Seven Gables". The story of The

House Of The Seven Gables streches over two centuries. It's the classic scenario of two

rival families, in this case the Pyncheons ( weathly aristocratic puritans) and the Maules

( humbler paupers). The story of these two families begins with Matthew Maule, who

owned a certain amount of land and built himself a hut to live in, in this new puritan

settlement. Maule was a hard working but obscure man, who was stubborn and protected

what was his. His rival arrived at the settlement about 30 to 40 years after Maule had

been there. Colonel Pyncheon, an ambicious and determined man, had a high position in

the town. It was said that Colonel Pyncheon was very much for the execution of those

who practiced witchcraft, and it was also said that he very strongly sought the

condemnation of Matthew Maule for being a wizard. Pyncheon did manage to have

Maule executed but not before Maule placed a curse on Pyncheon and his descendant


These were Maules exact words :

" God, God will give him blood to drink !"

Many of the characters in the book were influenced by actual people in and

during Nathanial's life. For example : Colonel Pyncheon was based on The Reverend

Wentworth Upham, a Minister and mayor of Salem. He wrote the books : Lecture's on

Withcraft and History of Witchcraft and Salem Village. The Maule name was derived

from Thomas Maule, a Quaker merchant living in Salem at the time of the trials. In

Nathanials American Notebooks he records that his great great grandfather Judge

Hathorne, the judge in the witch trials, injured a neighbor named English once, who

never forgave him. Yet English's daughter married Hathorne's son. In the same way, the


s of the Pyncheons and the Maules finally unite in marriage

at the end of the

story. The Pyncheon and the Maule who get married at the end are Phoebe and Holgrave.

Phoebe is a smiling, public young woman. Holgrave is a kind artist ( daguerreotypist )

and is also the last desendant of Thomas Maule ( this is revealed at the end of the story).It

is believed that his cousin,



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