The House of the Seven Gables

The Decline of Aristocracy

Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbols and characters to portray the struggle between aristocratic and democratic ideas in his novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The democratic ideas which develop throughout the novel prevail against the aristocratic greed, injustice, and pride. Hawthorne begins his novel with the reign of aristocracy by depicting Colonel Pyncheon’s acquisition of the house through means of power and greed. The novel takes place during the lives of Hepzibah and Jaffery Pyncheon, descendants of the original Colonel, who built the house and laid the foundation for generations of resentment and hatred between the Pyncheon’s and Maule’s. The Judge eventually falls, bringing down with him the negative aspects of aristocracy while allowing the rest of the characters to live democratically and freely.

Hawthorne illustrates the lesson of false appearances by comparing the Judge, an aristocratic and deceptive member of society, to the rotten roses in the garden. When Phoebe looks out of her window from the house, she sees a rosebush “of luxuriant growth” that is “covered with a rare and very beautiful species of white rose” (59). Yet she later discovers that a “large portion of [the roses]…had blight or mildew at their...

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