The House of the Seven Gables Book Summary - The House of the Seven Gables Book explained in key points

The House of the Seven Gables summary

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Brief summary

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a classic novel that delves into the secrets and curses surrounding a New England family and their ancestral home, exploring themes of guilt, redemption, and the power of the past.

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    The House of the Seven Gables
    Summary of key ideas

    Cursed Heritage and Broken Relationships

    In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, the reader is introduced to the long-standing Pyncheon family curse. The progenitor, Colonel Pyncheon, seized Matthew Maule's land, accusing him of witchcraft which led to Maule's execution. As he died, Maule cursed the Pyncheon family, predicting that they would be haunted by their greedy deeds forever.

    The story then transitions to the present, two centuries later. The house, now old and dilapidated, is occupied by Hepzibah Pyncheon, a retired, impoverished gentlewoman. She’s forced to open a cent-shop, despite her discomfort towards it, due to her complicated relationship with work and her societal prestige.

    Reunion and Rediscovery

    As the story unfolds, her youthful cousin, Phoebe arrives and breathes freshness into the gloomy house with her radiating innocence and charm. Hepzibah's brother, Clifford, newly released from prison retains a childlike wonder, but suffers from a dark past. Reading between the lines, we can see indirect hints of Clifford being falsely accused of the death of their uncle by Jaffrey Pyncheon, their successful and affluent cousin.

    Meanwhile, Holgrave, a daguerreotypist living in the house fosters an unexpressed love for Phoebe. He relates the dark history of the house in one of his taped stories, emphasizing how the inherited familial greed has cursed the Pyncheons from generation to generation. His non-traditional thinking towards progressive and democratic ideas marks a sharp contrast to the Pyncheons.

    Manifested Greed and Unexpected Death

    The plot thickens as Jaffrey visits the house, demanding to see his cousin, Clifford, believing that Clifford holds the secret to a long-lost property deed. When Clifford and Hepzibah deny this, Jaffrey threatens them with the possibility of Clifford returning to prison. This standoff shows the manifestation of the long-standing familial greed that has contaminated the Pyncheon lineage.

    When Phoebe and Holgrave return from their afternoon outing, they discover that the ever formidable Jaffrey has mysteriously died. Holgrave surmises that Maule's curse has finally taken effect, fueling an atmosphere of gloom hovering over the house.

    The End of Curse and New Beginning

    In the climax of Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, Holgrave confesses his well-kept secret - he's a descendant of Matthew Maule. Yet, instead of avenging his ancestor, he's in love with Phoebe and wishes to bring an end to the never-ending feud. Clifford, Hepzibah, and Phoebe relocate to the countryside, while Holgrave and Phoebe plan to marry, showing hope for a curse-free generation.

    This death, rather than adding to the gloom, frees the remaining Pyncheons from the curse of their ancestor. We witness Hepzibah and Clifford rekindling their joy for life, and the once-morbid house awakening to a new beginning, proving that love can overcome inherited hatred and rivalry.

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    What is The House of the Seven Gables about?

    The House of the Seven Gables is a classic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It tells the story of the Pyncheon family and their ancestral home, which is haunted by a curse. The book is a careful examination of the persistence of the past and the power of guilt and greed. Hawthorne explores themes of family, love, and redemption in this haunting tale.

    Who should read The House of the Seven Gables?

    • Fans of classic literature
    • Readers interested in exploring themes of guilt and redemption
    • Individuals who enjoy historical fiction set in New England

    About the Author

    Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American author known for his novels and short stories. He was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, and began his writing career as a journalist. Hawthorne's most famous work, "The Scarlet Letter," explores themes of guilt and redemption in 17th-century Puritan society. He also wrote "The House of the Seven Gables" and "The Blithedale Romance," among other novels. Hawthorne's writing style is characterized by its dark themes, psychological complexity, and exploration of moral dilemmas.

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