The House of the Seven Gables Characters

Character List

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Hepzibah Pyncheon

An elderly woman of nearly sixty, she is one of the few remaining members of the Pyncheon family. She lives a solitary life in the House of the Seven Gables, awaiting the return from prison of her brother, Clifford. Hepzibah is a refined lady who has never deigned to enter a profession, yet she now faces poverty and is forced to open a small shop in the house in order to support herself. Hepzibah is a frail and kind woman, yet her appearance indicates otherwise; she has a perpetual scowl caused by vision problems that makes her seem biter and ill-tempered to others.

Clifford Pyncheon

The brother of Hepzibah Pyncheon, during the course of the novel Clifford returns from prison after several decades. He had been blamed for the murder of his uncle, who died of natural causes, by his cousin Jaffrey, who wanted Clifford's inheritance. When Clifford returns home after so long, he is a frail man who requires nearly constant attention. He remains hidden within the House of the Seven Gables out of fear, but takes pleasure and sustenance from things of beauty, in particular the company of young Phoebe Pyncheon. His stay in prison marked Clifford as less than completely sane; he exhibits childlike behaviors, tastes and obsessions.

Phoebe Pyncheon

A distant relative of Hepzibah and Clifford, this seventeen year old girl visits the House of the Seven Gables from her home in the country, wishing to stay with Hepzibah. Separated from Clifford and Hepzibah by age and upbringing, Phoebe brings a newfound energy to the House of the Seven Gables by helping Hepzibah set up her shop and by caring for the attention-starved Clifford.

Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon

The cousin of Hepzibah and Clifford, he is a wealthy and distinguished member of society. He is a sinister man with a resolute sense of purpose. Judge Pyncheon resembles in many ways Colonel Pyncheon, for both are known for their imposing characters and attempts to grasp at power and fortune. It was Judge Pyncheon who framed Clifford for his uncle's murder and who now believes that Clifford holds the secret to the location of a long-lost deed to vast eastern territories that could make him unbelievably wealthy.

Mr. Holgrave

A boarder at the House of the Seven Gables, this young man is Hepzibah Pyncheon's only friend. He is currently employed as a daguerreotypist, but has moved from profession to profession and seems likely to do so again. He is largely a mysterious man, suspected of engaging in some Black Art in his room, and he closely monitors the Pyncheon family that remains. He has been studying the Pyncheons in order to publish a family history, and in the end reveals himself to be a descendant of Matthew Maule.

Uncle Venner

A mentally deficient old man who is a nearly permanent fixture on Pyncheon Street, Uncle Venner is one of Hepzibah and Clifford's few companions.

Ned Higgins

This little boy is the first actual customer in Hepzibah's shop. He voraciously buys all the gingerbread that she can offer and he can afford.

Mrs. Gubbins

When Clifford and Hepzibah escape town after Judge Pyncheon dies, Mrs. Gubbins complains that Hepzibah has not kept her shop open.

Colonel Pyncheon

The founding member of the Pyncheon dynasty who lived during the Puritan era, Colonel Pyncheon was a prominent man for whom the House of the Seven Gables was built. To obtain the property for the House of the Seven Gables, Colonel Pyncheon used his influence to have the wizard Matthew Maule, the owner of the property, burned for witchcraft. Colonel Pyncheon died several years later of mysterious causes. Although there was suspicion that he was murdered, he in fact died of apoplexy. Colonel Pyncheon still presides over the Pyncheons in spirit: in each generation, there is a Pyncheon who resembles the stern, purposeful character of the Colonel.

Matthew Maule

An undistinguished man and a contemporary of Colonel Pyncheon, he was widely suspected of being a wizard and was burned for witchcraft. The charge for his execution was led by Colonel Pyncheon, who wanted to buy Maule's property in order to build the House of the Seven Gables. Although Matthew Maule refused, Pyncheon gained the property after his execution. There are two characters named Matthew Maule: the aforementioned character and his grandson of the same name, a character in the chapter entitled "Alice Pyncheon."

John Swinnerton

This doctor examines Colonel Pyncheon after his death and claims that he died of a stroke.

Reverend Higginson

During Colonel Pyncheon's funeral, this minister predicts that the Pyncheon family will hold their esteemed position in society permanently.

Gervayse Pyncheon

The grandson of Colonel Pyncheon, as a child he was one of the few people who had access to the Colonel. As an adult, he continued his grandfather's quest to find the missing map and deed to the eastern lands, summoning the grandson of Matthew Maule to help him.

Alice Pyncheon

The daughter of Alice Pyncheon, this young woman was poised, refined and beautiful. She is known for the posies in one of the arches of the House of the Seven Gables that she brought from Italy. However, she became afflicted by a spell cast by Matthew Maule (the grandson) which placed her under his bidding, and died from an illness brought on when he made her walk home in the rain after serving his fiancee.

Matthew Maule, III

The grandson of Matthew Maule, he is accused by Gervayse Pyncheon of knowing the location of the hidden map and deed to the eastern territories and places Alice Pyncheon under a spell which makes her subservient to him.

Scipio

He was Gervayse Pyncheon's black servant.