The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

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Overview

The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished, however, the Colonel is found dead, and the property deed is missing. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on hard times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability. Hawthorne's masterful tales describe the brooding hold of the past over the present, twisting and turning through many generations of a venerable New England family. A true classic of American literature. Newly designed and typeset for easy reading by Boomer Books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451531629
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/05/2010
Series: Signet Classics
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 282,578
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ability to weave worlds of plaintive beauty is somewhat at odds with his family background. His ancestry, which stems back to the Salem witch trials of 1692, contains a bloody, judgmental history used to dramatic effect in his novels and short stories. For Hawthorne, the sins of the father being passed on through subsequent generations was a haunting image, which he believed shadowed his own family.

Date of Birth:

July 4, 1804

Date of Death:

May 19, 1864

Place of Birth:

Salem, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Plymouth, New Hampshire

Education:

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Read an Excerpt

Half-way 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. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down Pyncheon-street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities; the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The House of the Seven Gables"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to The House of the Seven Gables
  • Textual Introduction: The House of the Seven Gables
  • Note on the Typesetting
  • Preface

  1. The Old Pyncheon Family
  2. The Little Shop-Window
  3. The First Customer
  4. A Day behind the Counter
  5. May and November
  6. Maule's Well
  7. The Guest
  8. The Pyncheon of To-day
  9. Clifford and Phoebe
  10. The Pyncheon-Garden
  11. The Arched Window
  12. The Daguerreotypist
  13. Alice Pyncheon
  14. Phoebe's Good Bye
  15. The Scowl and Smile
  16. Clifford's Chamber
  17. The Flight of Two Owls
  18. Governor Pyncheon
  19. Alice's Posies
  20. The Flower of Eden
  21. The Departure

  • Textual Notes
  • Editorial Emendations in the Copy-Text
  • Rejected First-Edition Substantive Readings
  • Word-Division
  • Historical Collation
  • Alterations in the Manuscript
  • Compositorial Stints in the First Edition
  • The Centenary Texts: Editorial Principles
  • Appendix to the Second Printing

Reading Group Guide

1. Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately describes the book? Why or why not?

2. What do you make of the relationship between interior consciousness and external appearance in the novel? How does this conflict, as experienced by each of the central characters, inform the novel? And how does the house serve as a metaphor for this struggle?

3. Discuss the theme of class and social structure in the novel. What do you think Hawthorne intends in his depiction of Hepzibah's and Clifford's slow decline, and the curse on the Pyncheons' house? Are these related in any way? What about the role of the Maules?

4. Is the house a kingdom or a prison? Neither, or both? What is the curse that afflicts the Pyncheons? Discuss.

5. Discuss the role played by Holgrave in the novel. How does his nomadic, rootless existence stand in contrast to the Pyncheons? How does his marriage to Phoebe complicate this?

6. Discuss the scene in which Clifford attempts to join the procession. How does this illuminate the fundamental struggle of the Pyncheon family?

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