Read an in-depth analysis of Hepzibah Pyncheon.
Read an in-depth analysis of Clifford Pyncheon.
Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon - The wealthy, popular cousin of Hepzibah and Clifford, Judge Pyncheon is the closest to their stern ancestor, Colonel Pyncheon. With his brilliant smile, he is viewed, by himself and by others, as a pillar of the community, but his is in fact a dark and greedy nature. Most likely the true culprit in the death of old Jaffrey Pyncheon, the Judge is resolved to acquire the rest of the dead man’s missing property.
Read an in-depth analysis of Holgrave.
Read an in-depth analysis of Phoebe Pyncheon.
Colonel Pyncheon - A bastion of the town’s Puritan community two centuries before the action of the novel unfolds. Colonel Pyncheon’s greed and heartlessness are responsible for the Pyncheon curse. The Colonel, who is the first member of his family to die of apoplexy, a sudden kind of brain hemorrhage, comes to symbolize all that is wrong with the Pyncheons. His portrait looms over the future inhabitants of his home.
Matthew Maule - (the younger) The grandson of the original Matthew Maule and the son of Thomas Maule, who built the house of the seven gables, the young Matthew Maule nurses a powerful grudge against the Pyncheon family. The young Maule’s imprudence with his hypnotic powers unintentionally causes the death of young Alice Pyncheon.
Alice Pyncheon - The daughter of Gervayse Pyncheon, Alice’s life is destroyed after she falls under the hypnotic spell of the younger Matthew Maule. The sounds of her harpsichord are said to still haunt the house of the seven gables.
Gervayse Pyncheon - The grandson of Colonel Pyncheon and father of Alice, Gervayse’s attempts to retrieve his family’s deed to a tract of land in Maine cost his daughter her life.
Uncle Venner - A colorful figure in the village, Uncle Venner preaches a philosophy of undaunted optimism in spite of his poverty. He provides friendship to the lonely Clifford and Hepzibah, as well as to Phoebe and Holgrave.
Old Jaffrey Pyncheon - The uncle of Clifford and the Judge, old Jaffrey Pyncheon dies of an apoplectic fit after finding young Jaffrey rummaging through his notes.
Thomas Maule - The carpenter who builds the house of the seven gables on land stolen from his own family. It is believed that he steals the Pyncheons’ deed to the Maine land and hides it somewhere within the house.
Two workmen - The two workmen, who unintentionally mortify Hepzibah with their open discussion of her shop’s prospects, depict the New England working class.
The organ-grinder - A traveling musician whose act includes a monkey and a moving diorama.
Judge Pyncheon’s son - (unnamed) Judge Pyncheon’s estranged son, whose timely death from cholera leaves the Judge’s inheritance to Clifford.
An old gentleman - An old gentleman who strikes up conversation with Clifford and Hepzibah on a train, and is repulsed by Clifford’s newly revolutionary sentiments.
The name Phoebe derives from the Greek word “phoibos,” which means “shining.” Phoebe is therefore an appropriate name for a character who brings the only rays of light into the somber Pyncheon home. At times, Phoebe literally brings a breath of fresh air into the house, throwing open her windows, rearranging her room, and coaxing the garden back to health and beauty from its state of decay and disarray. Phoebe’s good nature is bolstered by a strong sense of moral judgment and wisdom. Within the novel’s morally ambiguous maelstrom, Phoebe emerges as a voice of reason. Holgrave makes the mistake of thinking he can read her like a book and is subsequently forced to retract this condescending view. Phoebe continues to surprise us by showing great strength and moral fortitude, unlike many of the other corruptible and malicious characters who pervade the novel. After the Judge’s death, for example, Phoebe enters the eerie confines of the house, and later argues that witnesses should be called, despite Holgrave’s feverish protest. Phoebe has the courage to resist her own heart and to endure being dismayed by Holgrave’s first proposal—she forces the man she loves to change rather than changing herself to suit him.
More characters from The House of the Seven Gables