The House of the Seven Gables

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Holgrave is a mysterious young man in his early 20s who boards in one of the Pyncheon house’s seven gables. He is at once grave in his demeanor and vigorous in pursuit of his many interests. He has held a variety of jobs, such as dentist, editor, and hypnotist; he currently works as a daguerreotypist. Holgrave has a staunch belief in societal progress and the tearing down of deadening traditions, such as those represented by the House of the Seven Gables, which he professes to hate. Phoebe finds Holgrave’s radicalism off-putting, but she respects his self-assurance and gradually grows to befriend and love him. Though it is not revealed until the end of the novel, Holgrave is a descendant of Matthew Maule and knows the secrets of the House of the Seven Gables, including the location of the long-lost deed. He represents rationalism in the story, and he claims to give no credence to supernatural occurrences in the House, though he incorporates some into the short story he writes about Alice Pyncheon. Holgrave and Phoebe become engaged after Judge Pyncheon’s death, and their marriage represents a union of the Maule and Pyncheon families and, implicitly, a breaking of the family curse.

Holgrave Quotes in The House of the Seven Gables

The The House of the Seven Gables quotes below are all either spoken by Holgrave or refer to Holgrave. 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 6 Quotes

"l can assure you that this is a modern face, and one which you will very probably meet. Now, the remarkable point is, that the original wears, to the world's eye—and, for aught I know, to his most intimate friends—an exceedingly pleasant countenance, indicative of benevolence, openness of heart, sunny good humor, and other praiseworthy qualities of that cast. The sun, as you see, tells quite another story, and will not be coaxed out of it, after half a dozen patient attempts on my part. Here we have the man, sly, subtle, hard, imperious, and, withal, cold as ice. […] And yet, if you could only see the benign smile of the original! It is so much the more unfortunate, as he is a public character of some eminence, and the likeness was intended to be engraved."

Related Symbols: Portrait and Daguerreotype
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

[Holgrave] could talk sagely about the world's old age, but never actually believed what he said; he was a young man still, and therefore looked upon the world—that gray-bearded and wrinkled profligate, decrepit without being venerable—as a tender stripling, capable of being improved into all that it ought to be, but scarcely yet had shown the remotest promise of becoming. […] It seemed to Holgrave—as doubtless it has seemed to the hopeful of every century since the epoch of Adam's grandchildren—that in this age, more than ever before, the moss-grown and rotten Past is to be torn down, and lifeless institutions to be thrust out of the way, and their dead corpses buried, and everything to begin anew.

Related Characters: Holgrave
Related Symbols: Portrait and Daguerreotype, House
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

[U]nder those seven gables, at which we now look up—and which old Colonel Pyncheon meant to be the house of his descendants, in prosperity and happiness, down to an epoch far beyond the present—under that roof, through a portion of three centuries, there has been perpetual remorse of conscience, a constantly defeated hope, strife amongst kindred, various misery, a strange form of death, dark suspicion, unspeakable disgrace—all or most of which calamity I have the means of tracing to the old Puritan's inordinate desire to plant and endow a family. To plant a family! This idea is at the bottom of most of the wrong and mischief which men do. The truth is, that, once in every half century, at longest, a family should be merged into the great, obscure mass of humanity, and forget all about its ancestors.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

[The legend] here gives an account of some very strange behavior on the part of Colonel Pyncheon's portrait. This picture, it must be understood, was supposed to be so intimately connected with the fate of the house, and so magically built into its walls, that, if once it should be removed, that very instant the whole edifice would come thundering down in a heap of dusty ruin. All through the foregoing conversation between Mr. Pyncheon and the carpenter, the portrait had been frowning, clenching its fist, and giving many such proofs of excessive discomposure, but without attracting the notice of either of the two colloquists. And finally, at Matthew Maule's audacious suggestion of a transfer of the seven-gabled structure, the ghostly portrait is averred to have lost all patience, and to have shown itself on the point of descending bodily from its frame. But such incredible incidents are merely to be mentioned aside.

Related Symbols: House, Portrait and Daguerreotype
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

But, alas for the beautiful, the gentle, yet too haughty Alice! A power that she little dreamed of had laid its grasp upon her maiden soul. A will, most unlike her own, constrained her do its grotesque and fantastic bidding. Her father, as it proved, had martyred his poor child to an inordinate desire for measuring his land by miles instead of acres. And, therefore, while Alice Pyncheon lived, she was Maule's slave, in a bondage more humiliating, a thousandfold, than that which binds its chain around the body. Seated by his humble fireside, Maule had but to wave his hand; and, wherever the proud lady chanced to be—whether in her chamber, or entertaining her father’s stately guests, or worshipping at church—whatever her place of occupation, her spirit passed from beneath her own control, and bowed itself to Maule.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 145
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 20 Quotes

And it was in this hour, so full of doubt and awe, that the one miracle was wrought without which every human existence is a blank. The bliss which makes all things true, beautiful, and holy shone around this youth and maiden. They were conscious of nothing sad nor old. They transfigured the earth, and made it Eden again, and themselves the two first dwellers in it. The dead man, so close beside them, was forgotten. At such a crisis, there is no death; for immortality is revealed anew, and embraces everything in its hallowed atmosphere.

Related Symbols: House
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“My dearest Phoebe,” said Holgrave, "how will it please you to assume the name of Maule? As for the secret, it is the only inheritance that has come down to me from my ancestors. You should have known sooner (only that I was afraid of frightening you away) that, in this long drama of wrong and retribution, I represent the old wizard, and am probably as much a wizard as ever he was. The son of the executed Matthew Maule, while building this house, took the opportunity to construct that recess, and hide away the Indian deed, on which depended the immense land claim of the Pyncheons. Thus they bartered their Eastern territory for Maule's garden ground.

Related Characters: Holgrave (speaker), Phoebe Pyncheon, Matthew Maule, Thomas Maule
Related Symbols: House, Portrait and Daguerreotype
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:
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The House of the Seven Gables PDF

Holgrave Character Timeline in The House of the Seven Gables

The timeline below shows where the character Holgrave appears in The House of the Seven Gables. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The First Customer
Horror and Innocence Theme Icon
...a young gentleman of 21 or 22, well-dressed and looking both grave and vigorous. It’s Holgrave, the daguerreotypist, who has come to offer well-wishes. At this expression of sympathy, Hepzibah bursts... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Status Theme Icon
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Holgrave also encourages her to think of this as a new stage in her life—one more... (full context)
Chapter 5: May and November
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Hepzibah also speaks of Holgrave and his strange, long-bearded friends, who include reformers, temperance lecturers, and other suspect characters. Yet... (full context)
Chapter 6: Maule’s Well
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As Phoebe is befriending the chickens, Holgrave appears with a hoe in hand, surprising her. Phoebe introduces herself to the “lawless” daguerreotypist,... (full context)
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Phoebe is puzzled by Holgrave’s unceremonious character—he seems both playful and grave—but she agrees to his offer to let her... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Pyncheon of Today
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Phoebe realizes that Judge Pyncheon is the subject of the miniature daguerreotype which Holgrave had shown her yesterday. She wonders if the hard expression is really the Judge’s natural... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Pyncheon Garden
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...in his chair, but Phoebe often coaxes him into the garden, where Uncle Venner and Holgrave have made repairs to the arbor, providing a shady place to sit. Phoebe reads to... (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 company because... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Daguerreotypist
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Phoebe’s only youthful companion is the daguerreotypist, Holgrave. They don’t have much in common, and under other circumstances, they might not have been... (full context)
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Being a daguerreotypist, too, is unlikely to be a permanent phase in Holgrave’s life, eventually to be cast aside. Phoebe instinctively trusts Holgrave because of his sense of... (full context)
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Holgrave also strikes Phoebe as cool and detached—well-meaning, yet without deep affection. Because of this, she... (full context)
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Holgrave is a fairly optimistic person. A young man, he looks upon the world, too, as... (full context)
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One particular afternoon, Holgrave sits with Phoebe in the garden. Holgrave, despite his characteristic detachment, has warmed to Phoebe,... (full context)
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Holgrave points out that the atmosphere in the House of the Seven Gables isn’t wholesome, either.... (full context)
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Phoebe is surprised that Holgrave believes the story of Maule’s curse on her Pyncheon ancestor. Holgrave believes the story is... (full context)
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Holgrave adds that Colonel Pyncheon appears to have “perpetuated himself” in the subject of Holgrave’s daguerreotype,... (full context)
Chapter 14: Phoebe’s Good-by
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When Holgrave finishes reading the story, he discovers that, in response to his gesticulations, Phoebe has fallen... (full context)
Horror and Innocence Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Progress Theme Icon
...evening is falling, giving both the House and garden a romantic aspect that touches even Holgrave’s heart, renewing his feeling of youth. He says he has seldom felt happier than he... (full context)
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Holgrave argues that Phoebe has not lost anything that was worth keeping. He says that one’s... (full context)
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...of the Seven Gables to be her real home, and she enjoys being useful here. Holgrave agrees that Phoebe is the source of all health and comfort within the house; when... (full context)
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Hepzibah and Clifford, Holgrave says, only appear to be alive. However, his interest in them is more analytical than... (full context)
Chapter 16: Clifford’s Chamber
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Hepzibah decides to seek out Holgrave for help, but he is in his public studio, not in his chambers. She glances... (full context)
Chapter 19: Alice’s Posies
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...of scraps waiting for him on the Seven Gables’ back doorstep—Hepzibah isn’t usually so forgetful. Holgrave leans out of his gable and greets Uncle Venner. Uncle Venner tells Holgrave that the... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Flower of Eden
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...hand draws her into an open, sunny reception room, and she now sees that it’s Holgrave, smiling at her more joyfully than she has seen before. He tells her, however, that... (full context)
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Holgrave tells Phoebe that she must be strong and help him cope with a terrible thing... (full context)
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Phoebe can’t help noticing that Holgrave seems remarkably calm, as if he had expected this to happen. Holgrave conjectures that the... (full context)
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...look guilty, Phoebe says they must entrust the situation to God and call in witnesses. Holgrave agrees, yet he does not hurry to end the secrecy and intimacy he and Phoebe... (full context)
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Phoebe does not believe that a man like Holgrave could find her interesting, or that she could follow his paths. Holgrave replies that his... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Departure
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...to circulate that Clifford wasn’t responsible after all. Some claim that a mesmerist friend of Holgrave’s saw this in a trance. (full context)
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Holgrave then reveals to Phoebe that he is a descendant of the Maules. He already knew... (full context)