The House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables, published in 1851, explores issues of class and the pursuit of wealth against the backdrop of decaying residences.

Source: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. (1851). The house of the Seven Gables. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields.

The author speaks directly to the reader explaining the reason for calling this novel a romance.
Chapter I: “The Old Pyncheon”
Colonel Pyncheon helps convict the owner of a seven-gabled house (Matthew Maule) of witchcraft. At the gallows, Matthew curses and the Colonel. On the day the Colonel opens the seven-gabled mansion, he is found dead. Future generations experience unhappiness and Hepzibah (the current resident) opens a ten-cent shop.
Chapter II: “The Little Shop-Window”
Hepzibah's nearsightedness and lack of education cause her to tend the store herself. This upsets her and she runs into the house crying.
Chapter III: “The First Customer”
Holgrave visits Hepzibah, and after overhearing a conversation between two customers, Hepzibah becomes concerned over her future. She is offended by their frank conversation involving her losing her dignity. Thoroughout the day, however, things begin to look up and her confidence returns.
Chapter IV: “A Day Behind the Counter”
Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon passes by the little store. Hepzibah is also visited by Uncle Venner who gives her advise on shopkeeping. At the end of the day, Phoebe arrives unaware that the letter she sent in advance never arrived. Hepzibah tells her she can only stay one night because she might disturb Clifford.
Chapter V: “May and November”
Phoebe begins to brighten the house with her presence. Hepzibah and Phoebe quarrel, but Hepzibah is persuaded to let Phoebe stay for a few weeks. After making breakfast, Phoebe helps out in the store and sells most of the inventory. Hepzibah is thrilled at Phoebe’s work and gives her a tour of the house.
Chapter VI: “Maule’s Well”
Phoebe wanders into the gardens and meets Holgrave. Phoebe walks into the house to see Hepzibah acting very strangely.
Chapter VII: “The Guest”
Phoebe helps Hepzibah make breakfast while noticing her strange behavior. Clifford comes downsrtairs to breakfast and ignores his sister, Hepzibah. When she explains her new occupation as shopkeeper, Clifford assures her that he is not ashamed of her, but weeps over his own life.
Chapter VIII: “The Pyncheon of To-day”
Phoebe meets her cousin, Judge Pyncheon. Although he smiles at her she recalls what Holgrave told her about a photograph revealing one’s true nature. Phoebe makes a connection between the Judge and the late Colonel. The Judge offers to help Clifford and Hepzibah financially, but Hepzibah refuses.
Chapter IX: “Clifford and Phoebe”
Phoebe begins to brighten up the lives of Hepzibah and Clifford.
Chapter X: “The Pyncheon-Garden”
Phoebe and Holgrave bring the once dead garden back to life. She and Clifford often stroll the gardens to lift his spirits. Hepzibah begins arranging sunday afternoon lunches with Phoebe, Clifford, Holgrave, and Uncle Venner. For once, Clifford seems animated.
Chapter XI: “The Arched Window”
Phoebe takes Clifford to the front window to gaze at the street outside. Clifford is horrified at an organ-grinder’s monkey. Phoebe goes to church and, though they dress and attempt to go, Clifford and Hepzibah realize that they cannot go any farther.
Chapter XII: “The Daguerreotypist”
Phoebe begins spending more and more time with Holgrave. He tells her his thoughts on the Pycheon curse and reads her an article he has written about it.
Chapter XIII: “Alice Pyncheon”
Holgrave tells Phoebe the story of the Pyncheon curse involving Matthew Maule, Gervayse Pyncheon and his daughter Alice.
Chapter XIV: “Phoebe’s Good Bye”
Phoebe is mesmerized by the story and tells Holgrave that she must return home for a short time. Holgrave tells Phoebe his feelings about Hepzibah and Clifford and that he senses trouble. Phoebe leaves.
Chapter XV: “The Scowl and Smile”
The house becomes dreary when Phoebe leaves. The Judge pays a visit to Hepzibah much to her chagrin. He asks to speak to Clifford about hidden gold and when Hepzibah refuses, the Judge threatens to lock Clifford in an asylum. Hepzibah relents.
Chapter XVI: “Clifford’s Chamber”
When Hepzibah enters Clifford's room, she finds it empty. When she returns downstairs, Clifford appears exclaimg that they're free. She recoils in horror at the Judge’s dead body.
Chapter XVII: “The Flight of Two Owls”
Clifford and Hepzibah flee the house and board a train. Clifford and a stranger strike up a conversation. Clifford begins to lecture the man and brings up a hypothetical house where a man lies dead. The stranger becomes suspicious and Hepzibah and Clifford get off at the next station.
Chapter XVIII: “Governor Pyncheon”
The narrator directly addresses the Judge as if he were merely sleeping.
Chapter XIX: “Alice’s Posies”
Several people come to the store to find it closed. When the Judge’s horse remains in front of the house, people begin to suspect that something’s wrong. Phoebe returns to the house and walks inside.
Chapter XX: “The Flower of Eden”
Phoebe is pulled into the house by Holgrave. After telling her about the Judge, he says he has not gone to the police for fear of implicating Hepzibah and Clifford. He reminds Phoebe that the death of the Judge resemble the death of Uncle Jaffrey, who’s murder was blamed on Clifford thanks to the Judge. Holgrave tells Phoebe he loves her and she reveals her feelings as well. Hepzibah and Clifford return to the house.
Chapter XXI: “The Departure”
The narrator clears up for the reader the truth about the Judge’s awful past and of his causing his own father’s death. Clifford inherits the Judge’s estate and moves into the large mansion with Hepzibah, Phoebe, and Holgrave. Holgrave reveals a hidden deed that the Judge was looking for. Uncle Venner agrees to live in a guest cottage on the property.
  • Year Published: 1851
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 10.0
  • Word Count: 108,616
  • Genre: Gothic
  • Keywords: class distinction, romance
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