House of the Seven Gables

House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne


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Though perhaps best known for his work The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde also wrote fairy tales for children that are still popular today. A House of Pomegranates contains four of these works. His writings reflect his wit and way with words.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780760719985
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2000
Pages: 298
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne’sability 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


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.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the story would include a chain of events extending over the better part of two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England during a similar period. It consequently becomes imperative to make short work with most of the traditionary lore of which the old Pyncheon-house, otherwise known as the House of the Seven Gables, has been the theme. With a brief sketch, therefore, of the circumstances amid which the foundation of the house was laid, and arapid glimpse at its quaint exterior, as it grew black in the prevalent east wind pointing, too, here and there, at some spot of more verdant mossiness on its roof and walls, we shall commence the real action of our tale at an epoch not very remote from the present day. Still, there will be a connection with the long past; a reference to forgotten events and personages, and to manners, feelings, and opinions, almost or wholly obsolete; which, if adequately translated to the reader, would serve to illustrate how much of old material goes to make up the freshest novelty of human life. Hence, too, might be drawn a weighty lesson from the little-regarded truth, that the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit, in a far-distant time; that, together with the seed of the merely temporary crop, which mortals term expediency, they inevitably sow the acorns of a more enduring growth, which may darkly overshadow their posterity.

The House of the Seven Gables, antique as it now looks, was not the first habitation erected by civilized man on precisely the same spot of ground. Pyncheon-street formerly bore the humbler appellation of Maule's Lane, from the name of the original occupant of the soil, before whose cottage-door it was a cow-path.

Table of Contents

Suggestions for Further Readingxxxv
A Note on the Textxxxix
The House of the Seven Gables1

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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The House of the Seven Gables 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
read this book years a go great book, you do no understand the book until you travel there and see the house in real life .. the house is something to see,to see how he lived hundred years ago is some to see. loved the hiding stair case .. they dont build houses and counting house like that any more.. any one who doesnt like the book needs to go see the house ..
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The House of the Seven Gables' is a more difficult but potentially more rewarding book than the more popular 'Scarlet Letter.' In 'The House of the Seven Gables' Hawthorne is, in effect, arguing with himself about man's nature--are we all subject to original sin? He sets the novel inside a mansion that has been cursed from its very beginning because its owner stole part of the house's land from someone who didn't have as much legal influence. Thus cursed, the house became a gloomy haven for a decayed and decadent aristocracy for the following 180 years, roughly 1665-1845. Like the house, are we cursed by original sin, condemned to repeat the patterns of our ancestors? (There are other interpretations of this book; I'm just leading with the most common one.) Hawthorne would best be described as a romantic realist. His narrative style is free of the supernatural but it is rife with symbolism--and often he will interpret the symbolism for you! There is not much 'action' in the conventional sense; a person could describe the goings-on in the book in ten minutes, including flashbacks. The novel's resolution will surprise you--but there still are some fundamental questions that haven't been answered! Hawthorne depends on descriptions for much of his work--e.g., how a particular rose looks on a particular morning, and that ties in with all the symbolism. As was common in Victorian times, sentence length was 2-3 times longer than today, with compound/ complex sentences the norm. If you can read Dickens without difficulty, though, you can read this book too. I'd recommend 'The House of the Seven Gables' for anyone interested in quality American literature, especially the early realist period, for people interested in how the Puritan strain haunted (haunts?) Americans, or indeed just for an interesting tale that is told with very little action, mostly mood and symbolism.
cal8769 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was painful to read. I have been trying to read the Classics but I couldn't even force myself to finish it. There was no room for imagination, every adjective in the world (it seemed) was used to describe every bit of this story. I got so sick of having everything descibed to me that I started obsessing on that instead of following the story.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel. That may be the author's preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book. The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read. Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200-year family curse. Therefore, in that regard it is a romance. However, the experience of reading the book is more like wondering through a dreary haunted labyrinth. I did not find it enjoyable to read. I suppose the book can be considered a parable with a message aimed at the stiff necked 19th Century New England descendants of the Puritans. They are a people who behave in proper ways, but have an ancestral history of executing their neighbors on trumped up charges of witchcraft. They are haunted by a secret guilt of association because of the actions of their ancestors. The story told by this book is about the Pyncheon family that parallels this New England story at large. The book's narrative comes as close as possible to being a ghost story while still remaining within the world of realism. I can imagine that a reader who believes in ghosts can come away from this story with the impression that it is indeed about ghosts. Likewise, another reader who doesn't believe in ghosts will say the story is about people who suspect that there may be ghosts in their lives who are intent on mischief. Either way Nathaniel Hawthorne skillfully weaves a family story filled with angst. One feature of the book that surprised me was the role of Mesmerism (today we call it hypnotism). As described in this book it appears to be occult magic. Likewise, a lot of the melancholia described in this book would today be called clinical depression. Thank goodness for the character of Phoebe in the story. Her young sunny disposition is a breath of fresh air into an otherwise dreary environment. She¿s a reminder of the eternal possibility of renewal brought by young people to human society. Read in November, 2008
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of classics but for some reason this was one of the hardest books I've ever read. I can't really say I enjoyed it much but I am glad of the accomplishment of having read it.
kinako on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about a poor woman and her cousin.The house of the Seven Gables was built by Colnel,and same day he died. It was a little difficult for me to understand this book.But I like this book.
dalepink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a poor woman and her cousin's cursed life. The poor woman is very negative, but her surroundings are positive enough to solve their unhappy days. It's difficult to understand for me only one time reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were little errors here and there that while annoying and inconvenient I did my best to ignore them. I had to stop reading when I got to page 72 and it was missing a page or so to where I felt I had missed something.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book i like to curl up with on the sofa and read with an apple- and i dont give that praise lightly! I luv Hawthorne. Of course, im only on the 5th or 6th chapter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rated it 3only because of the garbled script, what i could read of this book was exelent
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This version has a lot of problems with words being misspelled. It is hard to read!
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