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The House of the Seven Gables | Study Guide

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The House of the Seven Gables | Character Analysis


Hepzibah Pyncheon

Hepzibah means well and is good-hearted, but her intentions are masked by the permanent scowl on her face. She has kept herself secluded from people for years before her cousin Phoebe arrives and her brother Clifford returns. Hepzibah feels great shame over opening the store because she finds its association with money degrading. She feels it has sullied her family name. Her main joy in life is caring for her brother. She grows to love Phoebe and appreciates her demeanor and all she does for Clifford.

Phoebe Pyncheon

Phoebe comes from the country to visit Hepzibah, who is reluctant to take her in. Once Hepzibah consents to allow her to stay for the night, Phoebe instantly proves her worth. She becomes invaluable to Hepzibah and Clifford, performing many household duties, and is very effective in the shop. Everyone who comes in contact with Phoebe likes her and notices her goodness. She has an inherent goodness and humility.

Clifford Pyncheon

Clifford loves and appreciates attractive things but has had little chance to indulge himself. He was imprisoned after being falsely convicted of murdering his uncle. Upon release 30 years later, he returns to the House of the Seven Gables. His mind is gone, and he requires assistance. He gets this assistance from Phoebe, and he is extremely reliant upon it.

Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon

Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon often has a smile on his face, but when it disappears he has a fierce scowl. He is the villain of the novel and epitomizes all the negative traits of the colonel. He is greedy and does anything he can to get money. In the past, this included having his cousin thrown in jail for a crime he did not commit so he could secure the wealth of Uncle Jaffrey Pyncheon. Judge Pyncheon has a positive view of himself and glosses over his own negative traits and background.


Holgrave, who is a Maule but does not reveal this fact until the end of the novel, lives at the House of the Seven Gables. He claims to hate long-standing homes and claims he is only living in the house to better understand it. He is also a daguerreotypist, a person who produces photographs using silver or silver-covered copper plates. He nearly hypnotizes Phoebe when telling the history between the Maule and Pyncheon families. At the end of the book, his radical ideas fade away, and he is looking to turn the house into one of stone.

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