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The House of the Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne




_____ 1. Mesmerism is another term for

    A. witchcraft
    B. hypnotism
    C. a forerunner of the photograph
_____ 2. Hepzibah opens a cent-shop
    A. because she is bored with aristocratic life
    B. because she needs money
    C. so she can support Phoebe
_____ 3. "May and November" is the title of a chapter that contrasts
    A. Phoebe and Hepzibah
    B. Judge Pyncheon and his son
    C. Phoebe and Alice
_____ 4. Phoebe's attitude toward Judge Pyncheon can be described as one of
    A. suspicion
    B. gratitude
    C. trust
_____ 5. The Pyncheon most closely resembles the Colonel is
    A. Clifford
    B. Judge Jaffrey
    C. Phoebe
_____ 6. Clifford tries to jump out the window because he
    A. wants to die
    B. wants to rejoin humanity
    C. thinks the house is on fire
_____ 7. The sound of the harpsichord is a sign that
    A. Judge Pyncheon has died
    B. someone has entered Hepzibah's shop
    C. one of the Pyncheons is about to die
_____ 8. The blooming of Alice's Posies is a symbol that
    A. summer is over
    B. Phoebe and Holgrave are in love
    C. Phoebe wants Holgrave to come to the garden
_____ 9. Holgrave shocks Phoebe by showing her a miniature of
    A. Clifford
    B. the dead Judge
    C. her father
_____ 10. The problem with having Holgrave and Phoebe go to live in Jaffrey's country estate is that
    A. this house was also built with ill gotten wealth and represents the weight of the past
    B. they must burn down the house of the seven gables to end Maule's curse
    C. they must leave Hepzibah and Clifford to live alone in the past

11. What aspects of The House of the Seven Gables make it a romance?

12. What is Hawthorne's view of aristocracy versus democracy?

13. What lies beneath Clifford's attraction to Phoebe?

14. How does Hawthorne use comparisons to develop his themes?

15. How does the missing deed influence the lives of the Pyncheons?


_____ 1. Hawthorne calls The House of the Seven Gables

    A. a novel
    B. an autobiography
    C. a romance
_____ 2. For the past twenty-five years, Hepzibah has lived in
    A. seclusion
    B. prison
    C. a hospital
_____ 3. The Pyncheon fowls are a symbol of
    A. the Pyncheon family
    B. Uncle Venner and his farm
    C. Phoebe's former life in the country
_____ 4. Phoebe's character is often symbolized by images of
    A. flowers
    B. the sun
    C. the sky
_____ 5. The Pyncheon woman who is martyred to her father's greed is
    A. Phoebe
    B. Alice
    C. Hepzibah
_____ 6. Judge Pyncheon calls on Clifford because he
    A. feels guilty about Clifford's long imprisonment
    B. thinks Clifford knows where hidden wealth can be found
    C. wants an excuse to see Hepzibah
_____ 7. In a description of Clifford and Judge Pyncheon, Clifford is presented as a
    A. porcelain vase with a crack in it
    B. granite column
    C. hummingbird
_____ 8. Clifford is framed for murder by _____
    A. his uncle Jaffrey
    B. his cousin Jaffrey
    C. young Matthew Maule
_____ 9. The deed to the Pyncheon territory is hidden
    A. behind a painting
    B. in Maule's well
    C. behind the map
_____ 10. Holgrave's true identity is
    A. a descendant of Matthew Maule
    B. Hepzibah's son
    C. Phoebe's brother

11. What is the function of Holgrave's art in this story?

12. How does Hawthorne use images of light and darkness in the book?

13. How do Clifford and Jaffrey differ?

14. Compare the story of Alice and Matthew to the story of Phoebe

and Holgrave. What similarities and differences do you see?

15. What problems are posed by the ending of the book?


  1. B
  2. B
  3. A
  4. A
  5. B
  6. B
  7. C
  8. B
  9. B
  10. A

11. Before answering this question, review the Preface to The House of the Seven Gables. Write down all the characteristics of a romance, and then try to think of examples from the tale for each one. An example of "out of the ordinary events" might be the witchcraft trials. (The trials actually happened, but already seem bizarre in light of the liberal thinking of Hawthorne's day.) As an example of the use of the "Marvellous," you may wish to discuss the mirror in which all the dead Pyncheons are captured. In your last paragraph, you might state what effect you think these romantic touches have on the work as a whole. For example, do you think they make it less believable? Do you think they make it more interesting?

12. There are two ways to answer this question. The first is by defining both concepts and then giving examples for each. The second is to find two characters in the book who each symbolize one idea (for example, Hepzibah as a symbol of the aristocracy), and then compare the two. Let the characters' circumstances help you come to a conclusion about Hawthorne's views on each concept. Does the representative of one level of society triumph over the representative of the other? Is one seen as good and the other bad?

13. You may wish to return to Chapter IX, "Clifford and Phoebe," before answering this question. There you will find a good description of their relationship.

Begin by describing Clifford and Phoebe independently. Then show how she changes his life and why. Be sure to explain that Phoebe is a symbol to Clifford. In addition to explaining what their relationship includes, you may also wish to explain what it does not include.

14. List all the comparisons you can think of, including comparisons of characters, setting, and themes (examples are Phoebe and Hepzibah, light and darkness, gentility and plebeianism). Choose a comparison you think works particularly well, one that Hawthorne develops fully.

15. You can find two excellent examples of how the missing deed influences the lives of the Pyncheons. The first is in Hepzibah's reluctance to open a cent-shop. Mention how the deed figures in her thoughts at this crisis in her life, and how it has helped to create the crisis. The second example is found in the chapter entitled "Alice Pyncheon." Review that chapter and devote several paragraphs to how the deed has altered the lives of the characters who appear there. In your closing paragraph, you may wish to consider the discovery of the deed and what effect it ultimately had on the Pyncheons.


  1. C
  2. A
  3. A
  4. B
  5. B
  6. B
  7. A
  8. B
  9. A
  10. A

11. Introduce your answer by explaining what a daguerreotype is and how it was made. Consider the importance of sunlight in the process of making a daguerreotype, especially in relation to sunlight as a symbol throughout the book. Mention Holgrave's daguerreotype of Judge Pyncheon and what it reveals about the man. From this point you should draw conclusions about the function of art and the artist in society, as well as about distinguishing between appearance and reality.

12. Images of light and darkness are juxtaposed extensively in The House of the Seven Gables in developing characters and settings. List all the instances you can think of where images of light and darkness appear in opposition to each other. Choose several examples to show how they are juxtaposed symbolically.

13. In showing the differences between Clifford and Jaffrey, you will first wish to describe the physical differences between the men, and the language that defines them. Next show how physical differences act as a metaphor for spiritual, intellectual, and emotional differences. Discuss how different their lives are in terms of activities, desires, needs, and involvement with the outside world.

14. Review the similarities between the characters first. What do the two women have in common? What characteristics or talents do the two men share? Then consider the differences. How are the two women dissimilar? How do the two men differ? Discuss the different outcomes in the two stories. Consider what may account for the difference in outcomes.

15. You should discuss two main problems posed by the ending of the book. The first is Holgrave's conversion and the implications it has for his character as a whole. From here, move into a broader discussion of how this bears on the theme of the book. Will the progression of wrongdoing ever come to an end? How does your view on this matter affect your view of the tone of the ending? Is it a happy ending? What are some of the possible explanations for this ending?

[The House of the Seven Gables Contents]


    1. Judge Pyncheon is described as bearing a resemblance to his Puritan ancestor, the Colonel. How is he like the Colonel, and how is he different? What is the significance of the differences?
    2. Why is Phoebe so unlike the other Pyncheons? How does this contribute to the development of Hawthorne's theme of isolation?
    3. What is Holgrave's conversion, and what implications does it have for the future? What problems does it pose for you as a reader?
    4. Compare the relationship between Phoebe and Holgrave to the relationship that existed between Alice Pyncheon and Matthew Maule. What conclusions can you draw from the differences?
    5. Clifford and Holgrave have often been described as two sides of a single personality. What ideas and feelings do they share? What is it that ultimately makes them different?
    6. The house itself is often described as the principle character in the novel. How does it seem like a person to you and in what ways does it function as a character?
    1. How does Hawthorne use mesmerism as a modern form of witchcraft in The House of the Seven Gables?
    2. Explain how Hawthorne uses the Pyncheon fowls as a symbol for the Pyncheon family and the life of the house.
    3. What do the organ grinder's figures symbolize? Discuss this scene and Clifford's response.
    4. Discuss the house of the seven gables as a symbol of the human heart.
    5. If the house can be seen as a character in the book, for what is the arched window a symbol?
    1. Define the terms aristocrat and plebeian in relation to two characters in the book.
    2. Some readers claim that the final chapter betrays some of the themes developed throughout the book. Explain this position, and then give your opinion.
    3. Explain how Hawthorne uses his characters to develop the theme of appearance vs. reality.
    4. In his Preface, Hawthorne states the moral to The House of the Seven Gables. Does his story ever contradict this moral? Give examples, and discuss what implications this has for the novel.
    1. The works of most authors can be characterized by their preoccupations with certain themes, or landscapes, or styles. The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables are very different books, but they also have much in common. Explain.
    2. Some readers claim The House of the Seven Gables has no structure at all. Some say its structure is like the blueprint of a house. Others describe its structure as an "ascending spiral." And still others see it as nothing more than a series of comparisons. What do you think? Defend your choice with examples.
    3. How does Hawthorne use setting symbolically in The House of the Seven Gables?
    4. At the beginning of the novel, you find yourself "at the threshold" of Hepzibah's room. Discuss Hawthorne's use of the "threshold" throughout the book.
    5. How does The House of the Seven Gables reflect the concerns of the Transcendentalists? Compare Hawthorne's development of these themes to those of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.
    6. Hawthorne's development of his characters in relation to one another was an important step toward creating the "psychological novel." Discuss this technique in The House of the Seven Gables.

[The House of the Seven Gables Contents]


God of the winds in classical mythology.

Obsolete form of the word alarm.

Almost hypnotic power that some persons are thought to have over others.

Rupture or obstruction of a blood vessel to the brain, causing a loss of consciousness and sometimes paralysis.

In Gaelic folklore, female spirit whose wailing warns a family of the approaching death of one of its members.

Side street.

Hours during which the Boston Merchants' Exchange was open for business.

Name for a rooster, first found in medieval fables.

Hat woven of straw or thin strips of wood.

Radicals or reformers.

Large spiral seashell which, when used as a horn, produces a deep sound.

Puritan clergyman and author from Boston (1663-1728) who defended the Salem witchcraft trials in his writings.

Face or expression.

Forerunner of the photograph, produced by exposing a treated metal plate to sunlight, then printing the image made on the plate.

Cloth bearing a reversible print.

Asian plum trees.

Cavern, described in some fables, where a wizard meets with his apprentices.

Writing table or desk.

Pleased, inclined, willing.

Standard of dry measure used in the nineteenth century U.S. Customs Houses, based on the fact that a U.S. bushel of wheat weighed fifty-six pounds.

French socialist and reformer (1772-1837).

Nineteenth-century U.S. political party that opposed the extension of slavery into U.S. territories.

Triangular part of a building under a double-sloping roof.

Ring made of metals whose chemical interaction was thought to produce an electrical current that was beneficial for the wearer.

Characters in The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1628-1688).

French romance chronicling the adventures of a young rogue in Spanish society.

Literary style characterized by violence, desolation, and decay. Also a style of architecture found in Western Europe from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries.

Magazines that published literary work in Hawthorne's time.

Ancient city in southern Italy, buried when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

Mountain in Greece, famous for its honey.

In classical mythology, Ixion tried to seduce Hera. He was punished by Zeus, first with a cloud image of Hera and then by being fixed to a revolving wheel.

In the Old Testament, Jacob wrestles with an angel all night until the angel finally blesses him.

Stereotype of a black person in a song-and-dance act, based on a folksong of that name in the early 1800s.

In Aesop's Fables, king who does not exercise his power.

William III, king of England from 1689 to 1702.

In Roman and Etruscan myths, god who guards the house.

Matches lit by friction.

Hypnotism, named for Anton Mesmer, an Austrian physician (1734-1815) who believed in animal magnetism.

Finest American painter of miniatures (1777-1807).

In John Milton's Paradise Lost, personification of corrupting wealth, and the least of the fallen angels.

Very small portrait or painting.

High-quality coffee.

Psychic and fortune-teller in Massachusetts during the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Men's clothing store in Boston where inexpensive, ready-to-wear clothing was sold.


Italian violinist, considered the greatest violinist of all time (1782-1840).

In Paradise Lost, capital of hell.

Governor of Massachusetts during the Salem witchcraft trials (1692).

Common person.

English poet (1688-1744). He is famous for his satiric epic poem The Rape of the Lock.

History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson, eighteenth-century English writer and dictionary compiler.

Green apple, formerly grown for its keeping powers.

Customer, business patronage.

Person devoted to the gratification of sensual appetites. Sybaris, a Greek town in ancient Italy, was notorious for its devotion to sensual pleasures.

Series of satiric essays (1709-1711) written by Richard Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719).

Pig given instead of cash to satisfy a parishioner's duty to support the church.



Changes, as in nature or human life.


THE STORY, continued

ECC [The House of the Seven Gables Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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