The House of the Seven Gables

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Clifford is Hepzibah’s brother and one of the last surviving members of the Pyncheon family. However, he does not take after them; in fact, he is tender-hearted, delicate, and a lover of beauty. These characteristics make it especially devastating when Judge Pyncheon lets Clifford take the fall for Uncle Jaffrey’s death, leading to Clifford’s 30 years of imprisonment. When Clifford is released and returns to the House of the Seven Gables, he is a shell of his younger self, bewildered, disoriented, and unable to relate to the world around him. After Hepzibah’s age proves to be off-putting to Clifford, Phoebe forms a special bond with him and helps him regain a childlike joy in nature and simple pastimes. After Judge Pyncheon threatens Clifford with commitment to an asylum, citing his childlike and erratic behavior, the Judge soon ends up dead by mysterious means. Clifford gleefully flees the House with Hepzibah, enjoying a triumphant train journey during which he regales a fellow passenger with theories about progress, until he realizes they cannot outrun the Pyncheon curse. However, in the aftermath of the Judge’s death, Clifford is somewhat vindicated for Uncle Jaffrey’s death and he regains a measure of happiness when he and his relatives move into the countryside.

Clifford Pyncheon Quotes in The House of the Seven Gables

The The House of the Seven Gables quotes below are all either spoken by Clifford Pyncheon or refer to Clifford Pyncheon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Wrongdoing, Guilt, and Retribution Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The House of the Seven Gables published in 1999.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Here is one of the truest points of melancholy interest that occur in ordinary life. It was the final throe of what called itself old gentility. A lady—who had fed herself from childhood with the shadowy food of aristocratic reminiscences, and whose religion it was that a lady's hand soils itself irremediably by doing aught for bread—this born lady, after sixty years of narrowing means, is fain to step down from her pedestal of imaginary rank. Poverty, treading closely at her heels for a lifetime, had come up with her at last. She must earn her own food, or starve! And we have stolen upon Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon, too irreverently, at the instant of time when the patrician lady is to be transformed into the plebeian woman.

Related Characters: Hepzibah Pyncheon, Clifford Pyncheon
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Little Phoebe was one of those persons who possess, as their exclusive patrimony, the gift of practical arrangement. It is a kind of natural magic that enables these favored ones to bring out the hidden capabilities of things around them; and particularly to give a look of comfort and habitableness to any place which, for however brief a period, may happen to be their home.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

By the involuntarily effect of a genial temperament, Phoebe soon grew to be absolutely essential to the daily comfort, if not the daily life, of her two forlorn companions. The grime and sordidness of the House of the Seven Gables seemed to have vanished since her appearance there; the gnawing tooth of the dry rot was stayed among the old timbers of its skeleton frame; the dust had ceased to settle down so densely, from the antique ceilings, upon the floors and furniture of the rooms below—or, at any rate, there was a little housewife, as light-footed as the breeze that sweeps a garden walk, gliding hither and thither to brush it all away.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Now, Phoebe's presence made a home about her—that very sphere which the outcast, the prisoner […] instinctively pines after—a home! She was real! Holding her hand, you felt something; a tender something; a substance, and a warm one—and so long as you should feel its grasp, soft as it was, you might be certain that your place was good in the whole sympathetic chain of human nature. The world was no longer a delusion.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

Coming so late as it did, it was a kind of Indian summer, with a mist in its balmiest sunshine, and decay and death in its gaudiest delight. The more Clifford seemed to taste the happiness of a child, the sadder was the difference to be recognized. With a mysterious and terrible Past, which had annihilated his memory, and a blank Future before him, he had only this visionary and impalpable Now, which, if you once look closely at it, is nothing.

Related Characters: Clifford Pyncheon
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Clifford would, doubtless, have been glad to share their sports. One afternoon, he was seized with an irresistible desire to blow soap bubbles; an amusement, as Hepzibah told Phoebe apart, that had been a favorite one with her brother when they were both children. Behold him, therefore, at the arched window, with an earthen pipe in his mouth! Behold him, with his gray hair, and a wan, unreal smile over his countenance, […] Behold him, scattering airy spheres abroad, from the window into the street! Little impalpable worlds were those soap bubbles, with the big world depicted, in hues bright as imagination, on the nothing of their surface.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

"I shall never be so merry as before I knew Cousin Hepzibah and poor Cousin Clifford. I have grown a great deal older, in this little time. Older, and, I hope, wiser, and—not exactly sadder, but, certainly, with not half so much lightness in my spirits! I have given them my sunshine, and have been glad to give it; but, of course, I cannot both give and keep it. They are welcome, notwithstanding!"

Related Characters: Phoebe Pyncheon (speaker), Holgrave, Hepzibah Pyncheon, Clifford Pyncheon
Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

Men of strong minds, great force of character, and a hard texture of the sensibilities are very capable of falling into mistakes of this kind. They are ordinarily men to whom forms are of paramount importance. Their field of action lies among the external phenomena of life. They possess vast ability in grasping, and arranging, and appropriating to themselves the big, heavy, solid unrealities, such as gold, landed estate, offices of trust and emolument, and public honors. With these materials, and with deeds of goodly aspect, done in the public eye, an individual of this class builds up, as it were, a tall and stately edifice, which, in the view of other people, and ultimately in his own view, is no other than the man's character, or the man himself. Behold, therefore, a palace!

Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

At last, therefore, and after so long estrangement from everything that the world acted or enjoyed, they had been drawn into the great current of human life, and were swept away with it, as by the suction of fate itself.

Still haunted with the idea that not one of the past incidents, inclusive of Judge Pyncheon’s visit, could be real, the recluse of the Seven Gables murmured in her brother's ear: "Clifford! Clifford! Is not this a dream?"

"A dream, Hepzibah!" repeated he, almost laughing in her face. "On the contrary, I have never been awake before!"

Related Characters: Hepzibah Pyncheon (speaker), Clifford Pyncheon (speaker), Judge Pyncheon (Cousin Jaffrey)
Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

You are aware, my dear sir […] that all human progress is in a circle; or, to use a more accurate and beautiful figure, in an ascending spiral curve. While we fancy ourselves going straight forward, and attaining, at every step, an entirely new position of affairs, we do actually return to something long ago hied and abandoned, but which we now find etherealized, refined, and perfected to its ideal. […] [Railroads] give us wings; they annihilate the toil and dust of pilgrimage; they spiritualize travel! […] Why, therefore, should [man] build a more cumbrous habitation than can readily be carried off with him?

Related Characters: Clifford Pyncheon (speaker)
Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
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The House of the Seven Gables PDF

Clifford Pyncheon Character Timeline in The House of the Seven Gables

The timeline below shows where the character Clifford Pyncheon appears in The House of the Seven Gables. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: A Day Behind the Counter
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...door to welcome her, she resolves that Phoebe can only stay for one night, lest Clifford be disturbed. (full context)
Chapter 5: May and November
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...that she will soon have to provide for another. She shows Phoebe the miniature of Clifford, of whom Phoebe has never heard. But since Phoebe is undeterred, Hepzibah agrees to let... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Guest
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...and tearful, tells a puzzled Phoebe that her heart is overflowing. She murmurs about “poor Clifford.” Phoebe hears the same hesitant step she had heard overnight and, at long last, Hepzibah... (full context)
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As Hepzibah pours Clifford coffee, Clifford seems bewildered by Hepzibah’s frowning expression. Hepzibah assures Clifford that she is not... (full context)
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Clifford is rattled anew when the shop bell rings. Hepzibah explains that they are now poor... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Pyncheon of Today
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Phoebe finds Ned Higgins in the shop. Ned tells Phoebe that Clifford is Hepzibah’s brother but doesn’t explain where Clifford has been. As Ned leaves, a portly,... (full context)
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...throat, she startles. Judge Pyncheon supposes that her fear is because of the arrival of Clifford. Phoebe replies that Clifford is the gentlest man imaginable. (full context)
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...hearing him approach, blocks the doorway. He tells Hepzibah that he has come to see Clifford and offer him anything he might need—they can even come to live on his country... (full context)
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...calling the Judge “the horror of [her] life.” She sends Phoebe to calm and comfort Clifford. Phoebe does so, wondering whether judges and other such eminent men really can be other... (full context)
Chapter 9: Clifford and Phoebe
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...has looked forward to her present situation—of being able to care for her beloved brother Clifford, to whom she has remained unfalteringly faithful. She does everything she can think of to... (full context)
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Hepzibah turns to Phoebe, who quickly establishes herself as indispensable to both Clifford and Hepzibah. The house itself becomes brighter and more cheerful with her presence there, and... (full context)
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Clifford grows youthful as he spends more time with Phoebe—Phoebe’s beauty and solidity draw him back... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Pyncheon Garden
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Clifford tends to spend all day drowsing in his chair, but Phoebe often coaxes him into... (full context)
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After Phoebe goes to church on Sundays, she, Clifford, Hepzibah, Holgrave, and Uncle Venner gather in the Pyncheon garden. Clifford especially enjoys Uncle Venner’s... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Arched Window
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Phoebe decides that it would be beneficial for Clifford to have some variation in his routine, so they sit together at a large, arched... (full context)
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...shoulder and, when the boy stops playing, jumps down to beg for coins from passersby. Clifford enjoys the performance but cries at the sight of the monkey, seeing a kind of... (full context)
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Another day, a political parade passes by, and Clifford is so emotionally overwhelmed by the display that he puts his foot on the windowsill,... (full context)
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One Sunday morning, Clifford is moved by the sunshine, the sound of the church bells tolling across the city,... (full context)
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Hepzibah and Clifford dress in their faded, moldy churchgoing clothes and head out the door. As soon as... (full context)
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Clifford is not constantly gloomy, however. In some ways, he is like a child, not having... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Daguerreotypist
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Clifford goes to bed early like a child, leaving Phoebe to do as she likes for... (full context)
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...is interested in her and the rest of the Pyncheon household. Holgrave often inquires about Clifford’s wellbeing, explaining to Phoebe that Clifford doesn’t mean anything to him personally, but that it... (full context)
Chapter 14: Phoebe’s Good-by
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...no longer as merry as she used to be. Since she came to live with Clifford and Hepzibah, her spirits are no longer light, and she feels she has aged. (full context)
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Hepzibah and Clifford, Holgrave says, only appear to be alive. However, his interest in them is more analytical... (full context)
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Two days later, Phoebe tearfully says goodbye to Hepzibah and Clifford. Within just a few weeks, the House of the Seven Gables has become dearest of... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Scowl and Smile
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...things at the House of the Seven Gables are dreary: a storm sets in, and Clifford is joyless. Meanwhile, business in the shop declines, since customers have heard that Hepzibah is... (full context)
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Later that morning, however, Hepzibah hears brief music coming from Alice Pyncheon’s harpsichord—Clifford had practiced the instrument in his youth. The notes are cut short by the jingling... (full context)
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Judge Pyncheon asks after Clifford while smiling brightly. He suggests that company would do Clifford good. Hepzibah defers him, explaining... (full context)
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...for all the world like Colonel Pyncheon. He tells Hepzibah that he was responsible for Clifford’s release from prison, and it is up to him to decide if Clifford should retain... (full context)
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Hepzibah mocks such an idea, but the Judge insists that before Jaffrey’s death, Clifford taunted him with the claim of secret knowledge of great wealth. He has also been... (full context)
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...doing what Colonel Pyncheon did before him, perpetuating the curse. But she agrees to summon Clifford, fearing that this encounter will indeed drive her brother mad. While Judge Pyncheon waits, he... (full context)
Chapter 16: Clifford’s Chamber
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With trepidation, Hepzibah makes her way toward Clifford’s chamber, the House feeling ghostlier than ever. The stories of Pyncheon history run through her... (full context)
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Hepzibah believes that the coming encounter between the Judge and Clifford will lead to the latter’s ruin, due to his delicate nature. Men with the Judge’s... (full context)
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...has a magnetic attraction, causing even Hepzibah to momentarily question her doubts about his integrity. Clifford, by contrast, is just a vaguely-remembered figure of shame to most people. (full context)
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At last, Hepzibah creeps to Clifford’s chamber door and knocks. There is no reply. She knocks several more times, calling his... (full context)
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Hepzibah is terrified. She pictures Clifford wandering the streets of town, subject to ridicule—or worse, wandering down to the docks and... (full context)
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Suddenly, Clifford himself appears on the threshold. He is deadly pale and wears a wild, scornful expression.... (full context)
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Clifford tells Hepzibah that they must leave. Hepzibah sees that Clifford is wearing a cloak. Hepzibah... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Flight of Two Owls
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Shivering and feeling adrift, Hepzibah follows Clifford toward the center of town. Clifford, she sees, is excited, almost drunkenly so, and he... (full context)
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Finally, Clifford leads them through the arched entrance of a large gray building. A train is puffing... (full context)
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...off the train at brief stops. Some sleep. The atmosphere is, in short, “life itself.” Clifford sees that Hepzibah is feeling bemused by her surroundings and urges her to set aside... (full context)
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...Seven Gables looms everywhere, seeming to set itself down wherever she looks. Her mind, unlike Clifford’s, is “unmalleable.” Because of that, in this environment, she no longer feels like Clifford’s guardian.... (full context)
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After the conductor passes through, Clifford gets into a conversation with an old man across the aisle, who says that Clifford... (full context)
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The “spiral” of progress, Clifford explains, transcends the ancient style of nomadic life. The railroads eliminate the weary effort of... (full context)
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Clifford exults that the farther he gets from the House, the younger he becomes. But now,... (full context)
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The old man points out that telegraphs have the advantage of helping to catch murderers. Clifford says that murderers have their rights, too, and maybe even excusable motives. He returns to... (full context)
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The train stops at a remote station, and Hepzibah and Clifford get off. They take in their surroundings: a decaying church, an abandoned farmhouse, and a... (full context)
Chapter 18: Governor Pyncheon
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After interviewing Clifford, the Judge was to have met with a broker and then attended a real estate... (full context)
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...House of the Seven Gables would pass down not to the Judge’s descendants, but to Clifford and Hepzibah and Phoebe. (full context)
Chapter 20: The Flower of Eden
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...arrived at a strange time. He does not know what has become of Hepzibah and Clifford. (full context)
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...missing Pyncheons that morning, he took the photograph in hopes of providing helpful evidence to Clifford in some way. He also has “hereditary reasons” to be concerned about the Judge’s fate. (full context)
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...conjectures that the Pyncheons have fled in terror, which makes things look very bad for Clifford. Yet it’s long been known that the Pyncheons had a tendency to die of a... (full context)
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Although Clifford’s flight makes him look guilty, Phoebe says they must entrust the situation to God and... (full context)
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Soon, however, they hear someone at the door, and weary footsteps enter. Clifford and Hepzibah are home. Hepzibah bursts into tears of relief when Phoebe runs to embrace... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Departure
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...back to Uncle Jaffrey’s death 30 years ago. Somehow, a rumor begins to circulate that Clifford wasn’t responsible after all. Some claim that a mesmerist friend of Holgrave’s saw this in... (full context)
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...his head. While waiting for his uncle’s death, the Judge discovered a will that favored Clifford, destroyed it, and kept an older one which favored him. He already hated Clifford, and... (full context)
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...of cholera reaches them. That means that the entire property passes into the hands of Clifford, Phoebe, and Hepzibah. Though Clifford could be vindicated at this point, it is no longer... (full context)
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After the Judge’s death, however, Clifford is able to be happy. He, Hepzibah, and Phoebe decide to move out of the... (full context)
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...Venner to come and live with them on the estate, where he can help keep Clifford’s spirits up. Clifford urges him to agree, and he does. Then a carriage draws up... (full context)