The House of the Seven Gables

 

written by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 report by Zachary Ott

      Image result  Nathaniel Hawthorne was a prominent novelist in the nineteenth century who was the only son of Image result for nathaniel hawthorneNathaniel and  Elizabeth Hathorne. He was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, and had two sisters. One of his sisters, Elizabeth Manning, was three years older than him, while Maria Louisa, his other sister, was four years younger than he was. His father, Nathaniel, was a sea captain and he died of yellow fever at sea in 1808. His mother was then thrust into a major financial struggle without the income of his father, so young Nathaniel moved in with Elizabeth's wealthy brothers. They, being of great wealth, sent him to expensive and high-class schools and, eventually, to Bowdoin College for four years. There, he met and befriended Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a poet, and Franklin Pierce, the future president of the United States. When Nathaniel was younger, however, a severe leg injury left him immobilized for many months; therefore, he developed a love for reading and literature, as reading was just about the only thing he was physically capable of during that span of time. Hiuncle, John Hathorne, was one of the three judges whom the infamous Salem Witch Trials were decided and analyzed by, but he later added a 'w' to his last name in order to show separation between him and this side of his family. While attending college under his uncles' financial support, he realized that he could not bear to spend his life away from his mother and his two sisters. He lived with them four twelve years after his time at college, and he took to writing. During his time there, he wrote some of his lesser-known novels, which brought him some popularity, but almost no income. He then met Sophia Peabody, a transcendentalist, what we might consider today to be a dreamer or a visionary, and she was a painter and an illustrator. After they married and had their first of three children, they rented an estate owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous poet. For their friendship in college, Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography in favor of Franklin Pierce, and, as a reward, Pierce elected him to a high position in England, where the Hawthornes lived for four years. When they came back to the U.S., Hawthorne finished many of his novels and he attempted at writing several more. Despite his efforts at finishing these started novels, he never completed most of them and he died in his sleep on May 19, 1864, in Plymouth, New Jersey.

About the Author

The House of the Seven Gables is a fictional novel about an estate built during Puritan times, but lasted for centuries, being passed down through the Pyncheon family, whom the house was originally built for. The story of the estate is told in third-person omniscient, meaning the narrator knows the thoughts and intents of all of the characters. The estate was coveted and wanted for many generations by the descendants of the builder of the house, Thomas Maule, a Puritan. His father, Matthew Maule, was executed on charges of wizardry, and rumors about him and what he did during his life lingered for centuries. It was said that the land on which his nephew built the house was cursed and that a well named after him bore dangerous water that was to be neither drunk nor used for any regular activity involving the use of water. The mansion was built on a street in present-day New England. The man Maule built the house for, Colonel Pyncheon, was murdered during the celebration for the completion of the mansion. The house stays in the family for innumerable generations and eventually falls into the possession of a woman named Hepzibah Pyncheon. The mansion, by then, is of little value to other people, so Hepzibah is poor and is cooped up in the house for the majority of her life. She is a kind-hearted woman and allows another man to reside in the house, and she knows him only as Holgrave. He is, to the extent of her knowledge, a quite lawless man, so she never really associates with him or finds out about him. Then one day a relative of hers comes to temporarily live in the mansion, and Hepzibah's simple, quiet lifestyle is suddenly flipped upside down by her innocent, lovely young cousin, Phoebe. Phoebe is a country girl who is kindhearted and sweet. She shows old Hepzibah the joyful side to life on earth and brings, even more, other people to the house who think of each other as family and slowly grow together. Among these new people are Unce Venner, whom not much is said bout in the book, Clifford Pyncheon, who is Hepzibah's brother, and even mysterious Holgrave. Another man by the name of Jaffrey also comes into play, but he is not welcome among the group. A time long ago not often referred to in the story he, being a judge, made a ruling against the Pyncheons residing in the House of the Seven Gables, which was the property the Pyncheons had been living on all this time. There was another estate mentioned in the story. A vast claim of land to the East was either bought or granted to the Pyncheon family during the lifetime of the ancient Colonel Pyncheon, but the deed to the claim was lost for centuries, and the land was claimed by several other farms, families, and companies, for the claim covered an extremely sizable stretch of land. When the judge passes away, there is found no will granting his wealth to his children, so the Pyncheons, Uncle Venner, and Holgrave are given his estate. The first day they move into his old house, they notice an elaborate picture in one of the rooms that, somehow, grabs their attention above anything else. One of them touches the painting, causing it to tumble immediately to the ground. Behind where it used to be mounted is a recess in the wall. Sitting there, in the recess, is a paper covered by centuries of layered dust. At first, it is unrecognizable, but they soon realize that they have just found the long-lost deed. It is now effectively worthless and everyone in the rooms knows this, but now hold everything. Holgrave was the one to cause the painting to fall, but how did he know what was behind it? He answers this question with his next action. He then proposes to Phoebe, asking her to marry him, but in the most clever of imaginable ways. His exact words to her are "My dearest Phoebe, how will it please you to assume the name of Maule?" In saying this, he is revealing that he is one of the long-lost descendants of old Matthew Maule. The Maules have told all of their children about what the nephew of the ancient wizard had done in the building of the judge's house. He had dug out this recess in the wall and hid the deed in it so the Pyncheon family would never gain control over the vast land because the Maule family was given the land in exchange for the mansion, but now the Pyncheons and Maules live on the same estate. This serves as my example of irony in the book. Ownership of land was a heated topic between the two for hundreds of years, but they end up living together, and the two families basically conjoin.

Summary

Falling Action

The group unfolds the paper that was hidden in the recess, and it turns out to be a long-lost deed for a claim to a huge space of land to the East, but it is worthless all these years after when it was to take effect, so they really don't know what to make of their find.

Exposition

 There was a dispute between two well-known families during the time of European immigration to the colonies. In New England, there is a street where a lot of strange things do occur rarely, but when they do, they are remembered for centuries.

Climax

The Pyncheons and Holgrave enter the judge's old house, and they start to look around. While they are in one of the rooms with a large, fancy picture, one of them knocks the picture off its mount, and there is a recess in the wall where it was. In the recess is a dusty old paper.

Plot

Resolution

They now understand that the deed has no  importance to them any longer, so they decide to move to a new estate with the riches given to them through Jaffrey, the judge, who had been their lifelong enemy. They can now live their lives free of the House of the Seven Gables, which had been a heavy weight hanging over their heads. Now they can live in peace and joy.

 

Rising Action

 A supposedly haunted estate has brought the sudden fate of some. Now some nice, poor, innocent people are living in this dreary house. Their lives are controlled by events from long ago, and they are almost at their breaking point. Will they overcome their struggles, or will the house bring their fate?

Clifford Pyncheon - Brother of Hepzibah

Clifford Pyncheon only appears later in the story as a long-lost brother of Hepzibah's. He spent the majority of his life fearing Jaffrey, but Jaffrey dies late in the story, and Clifford seems as if he is now free to live his own life without the fear of his cousin. and he becomes almost gleeful by the end, because of his release from Jaffrey.

Hepzibah Pyncheon - Old Maid, Protagonist

Hepzibah Pyncheon is the main character of the novel House of the Seven Gables. She lives a quiet ad lonesome life in the one-grand House. She has been cooped up there nearly all her life, but she has never truly considered leaving the mansion for good. Now, however, she has found new hope for life in a bright young girl that has come into her life, and her spirits are lifted to the point where she allows herself to love the people around her.  

Colonel Pyncheon - Recipient of the House

Colonel Pyncheon was the man whom the House of the Seven Gables was built for. He was an extremely wealthy man, but he was killed during the celebration for the completion of his great mansion. He is remembered in the story as a revered, yet somewhat pompous person. The mansion then was passed down his family line all the way down to Hepzibah.

Holgrave Maule - Descendant of Matthew Maule

Holgrave enters the story as a mysterious, lawless man who lives apart from Hepzibah in the mansion. He truly comes into the greater picture around the arrival of Phoebe. He and Phoebe slowly grow closer to each other, and he eventually sums up the courage to tell her that he loves her, and he gets the desired response: she loves him as well. When Jaffrey dies and they gain great wealth, he asks her to marry him, thus revealing his ancestry.

Characters

Phoebe Pyncheon - Cousin of Hepzibah

Phoebe Pyncheon was a country girl who came to meet and get to know Hepzibah. She was a high-spirited young woman who was hardened during her stay at the mansion but brought joy to all around her. She was an inspiration to Hepzibah and Clifford, and she will soon become a wife and assume the name of Maule.

Old Matthew Maule - Wizard

Old Matthew Maule was a wizard who was executed on account of his wizardry. Just before he was put to death, however, he made a prophecy about the Pyncheon family, the descendants of a colonel. He told all in attendance that God would bring young deaths to his family. He is commonly referred to in the story not for his prediction, but for his want for a vast claim of land to the East. Neither family would end up with the land, but they tried.

Jaffrey Pyncheon - Judge, Antagonist

Jaffrey (Judge) Pyncheon was a member of the family of Pyncheons, but the others despised him because of an earlier event. He had made a court ruling against the Pyncheons living in the mansion, and he stole the inheritance of Clifford when they were younger. Now he was rich and they were very poor, but when he died, his wealth was granted to the Pyncheons and their comrades.

My logic behind choosing The House of the Seven Gables resides in my appreciation for a decent challenge. This novel did not disappoint, as there were several instances where I found myself completely guessing about the meaning or importance of a word. I found myself enjoying the book oftentimes when I was forced to research a certain word which I did not understand, but the book also proved to have a very complicated structure. I regularly got lost in the progression of the book without analyzing what occurred completely accurately, thus making me confused and forced to reread a section that I did not fully understand. I definitely would recommend this book to someone who is interested in mystery and superstition, although it does fall into an advanced level of reading. I, personally, loved the book and how the story unfolded, and it also dissatisfied my need for a resolution. Nathaniel Hawthorne possesses an impressive ability to set cliffhangers at just the right moment, and it left me apprehensive and longing for more. I most definitely enjoyed the book, and I now have a certain respect and passion for this type of literature. I will be looking for more books similar to The House of the Seven Gables and of a certain genre, which this book has led me to possess a liking for. 

 

mystery, drama, suspense, romance

Review

Hawthorne, N., & Davenport, B. (1950). The house of the seven gables. New York: Dodd, Mead &.

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. (n.d.). Retrieved December 02, 2016,         from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Hawthorne

 

(n.d.). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from           http://www.biography.com/people/nathaniel-hawthorne-9331923

Works Cited

The House of the Seven Gables

 

written by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 report by Zachary Ott