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She refuses all assistance from her wealthy but unpleasant cousin, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. A distant relative, the lively and pretty young Phoebe arrives and quickly becomes invaluable, charming customers and rousing Clifford from depression. A delicate romance grows between Phoebe and the mysterious attic lodger Holgrave, who is writing a history of the Pyncheon family. The house was built on ground wrongfully seized from its rightful owner, Matthew Maule, by Colonel Pyncheon, the founder of the Massachusetts branch of the family.
The House of the Seven Gables: Novel Summary: Chapter 2 | Novelguide
Maule was accused of practicing witchcraft and was executed. According to legend, at his death Maule laid a curse upon the Pyncheon family.
During the housewarming festivities, Colonel Pyncheon was found dead in his armchair; whether he actually died from the curse or from a congenital disease is unclear. His portrait remains in the house as a symbol of its dark past and the weight of the curse upon the spirit of its inhabitants. Phoebe arranges to visit her country home, but plans to return soon.
Clifford, depressed by his isolation from humanity and his lost youth spent in prison, stands at a large arched window above the stairs and has a sudden urge to jump. The departure of Phoebe, the focus of his attention, leaves him bed-ridden. Judge Pyncheon arrives at the house hoping to find information about land in Maine, rumored to belong to the family.
He threatens Clifford with an insanity hearing unless he reveals details about the land or the location of the missing deed. Clifford is unable to comply. Before Clifford can be brought before the Judge which would destroy Clifford's fragile psyche , the Judge mysteriously dies while sitting in Colonel Pyncheon's chair. Hepzibah and Clifford flee by train. The next day, Phoebe returns and finds that Holgrave has discovered the Judge's body. The townsfolk begin to gossip about Hepzibah and Clifford's sudden disappearance.
Phoebe is relieved when Hepzibah and Clifford return, having recovered their wits. New evidence in the crime that sent Clifford to prison proves his innocence. He was framed for the death of his uncle by Jaffrey later Judge Pyncheon, who was even then looking for the missing deed. Holgrave is revealed as Maule's descendant, but he bears no ill will toward the remaining Pyncheons. The missing deed is discovered behind the old Colonel's portrait, but the paper is worthless: the land is already settled by others. The characters abandon the old house and start a new life in the countryside, free from the burdens of the past.
Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the old Pyncheon House; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon Elm.
The Pyncheon family actually existed and were ancestors of American novelist Thomas Pynchon.
The House of the Seven Gables: Novel Summary: Chapter 2
He considered changing the fictional family's name or adding a disclaimer in the preface, though no such edits were made. The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts — today a museum accompanying a settlement house — was at one time owned by Hawthorne's cousin, Susanna Ingersoll, and she entertained him there often. Its seven-gabled state was known to Hawthorne only through childhood stories from his cousin; at the time of his visits, he would have seen just three gables due to architectural renovations.
Reportedly, Ingersoll inspired Hawthorne to write the novel, though Hawthorne also stated that the book was a work of complete fiction, based on no particular house.
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He began writing it while living in Lenox, Massachusetts in August By October, he had chosen the title and it was advertised as forthcoming, though the author complained of his slow progress a month later: "I write diligently, but not so rapidly as I hoped I find the book requires more care and thought than the 'Scarlet Letter'". As he forewarned, "I must not pull up my cabbage by the roots, by way of hastening its growth.
The House of the Seven Gables was released in the second week of April Hawthorne's friend Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it "a weird, wild book, like all he writes. There is a certain tragic phase of humanity which, in our opinion, was never more powerfuly embodied than by Hawthorne. We mean the tragicalness of human thought in its own unbiased, native, and profounder workings. We think that into no recorded mind has the intense feeling of the visible truth ever entered more deeply than into this man's.
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