The House of the Seven Gables

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Phoebe is Hepzibah and Clifford’s 17-year-old cousin. She grew up in the country, outside the Pyncheon family orbit, and she takes after her mother with her enterprising, capable ways. Around the same time that Clifford is released from jail, Phoebe comes to visit Hepzibah, wanting to be of use to the Pyncheon household. Phoebe is a pretty, warm, and joyful girl who has a beautifying effect on her environment and on other people, always knowing how to make a place feel like home. She quickly rejuvenates the House of the Seven Gables, increases business in Hepzibah’s shop, and cheers the depressed Clifford—she’s even more adept at this than his sister Hepzibah. She also befriends Holgrave, although, as a rule-following girl who respects authority, she cannot relate to his cynicism and lack of regard for tradition. As they spend time talking together, however, her affection for Holgrave gradually grows. Despite Phoebe’s bright innocence, the House takes a toll on her demeanor, making her feel as if she has aged significantly in a short time. When she briefly returns to the country, the House accordingly loses its spark. After her return, she and Holgrave declare their love for each other and plan to marry, a union of the Pyncheon and Maule families. The couple joins Hepzibah and Clifford in moving to Judge Pyncheon’s country estate.

Phoebe Pyncheon Quotes in The House of the Seven Gables

The The House of the Seven Gables quotes below are all either spoken by Phoebe Pyncheon or refer to Phoebe 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 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:

Instead of discussing her claim to rank among ladies, it would be preferable to regard Phoebe as the example of feminine grace and availability combined, in a state of society, if there were any such, where ladies did not exist. There it should be woman's office to move in the midst of practical affairs, and to gild them all, the very homeliest—were it even the scouring of pots and kettles—with an atmosphere of loveliness and joy. Such was the sphere of Phoebe.

To find the born and educated lady, on the other hand, we need look no farther than Hepzibah, our forlorn old maid, in her rustling and rusty silks, with her deeply cherished and ridiculous consciousness of long descent, her shadowy claims to princely territory, and, in the way of accomplishment, her recollections, it may be, of having formerly thrummed on a harpsichord, and walked a minuet, and worked an antique tapestry stitch on her sampler.

Related Characters: Phoebe Pyncheon, Hepzibah Pyncheon
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
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 8 Quotes

Then, all at once, it struck Phoebe that this very Judge Pyncheon was the original of the miniature which the daguerreotypist had shown her in the garden, and that the hard, stern, relentless look now on his face was the same that the sun had so inflexibly persisted in bringing out. Was it, therefore, no momentary mood, but, however skillfully concealed, the settled temper of his life? And not merely so, but was it hereditary in him, and transmitted down, as a precious heirloom, from that bearded ancestor […] as by a kind of prophecy? […] It implied that the weaknesses and defects […] and the moral diseases which lead to crime are handed down from one generation to another, by a far surer process of transmission than human law has been able to establish[.]

Related Symbols: Portrait and Daguerreotype
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

Phoebe […] perplexed herself, meanwhile, with queries as to […] whether judges, clergymen, and other characters of that eminent stamp and respectability could really, in any single instance, be otherwise than just and upright men. A doubt of this nature has a most disturbing influence, and, if shown to be a fact, comes with fearful and startling effect on minds of the trim, orderly, and limit-loving class, in which we find our little country girl. […] A wider scope of view, and a deeper insight, may see rank, dignity, and station all proved illusory so far as regards their claim to human reverence, and yet not feel as if the universe were thereby tumbled headlong into chaos. But Phoebe, in order to keep the universe in its old place, was fain to smother, in some degree, her own intuitions as to Judge Pyncheon's character.

Page Number: 90
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 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 12 Quotes

[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 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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Phoebe Pyncheon Character Timeline in The House of the Seven Gables

The timeline below shows where the character Phoebe Pyncheon appears in The House of the Seven Gables. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Old Pyncheon Family
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...is very poor but refuses the Judge’s monetary support. The only other remaining Pyncheon is Phoebe, a country girl of 17 who is the daughter of a deceased cousin of the... (full context)
Chapter 4: A Day Behind the Counter
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...heart into her throat. However, a slender, cheery young girl alights. Hepzibah realizes it is Phoebe, a distant Pyncheon cousin, who has arrived unannounced for a visit. As Hepzibah opens the... (full context)
Chapter 5: May and November
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That night, Phoebe sleeps in a chamber overlooking the house’s old garden. The next morning, she is awakened... (full context)
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On Phoebe’s way back downstairs, Hepzibah calls her into her chamber and tells Phoebe that she doesn’t... (full context)
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Phoebe cheerfully makes breakfast, breaking into song now and then. Hepzibah gets out an old family... (full context)
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Hepzibah watches with genuine admiration as Phoebe successfully barters with an old lady in the shop, and she agrees to Phoebe’s various... (full context)
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As if sensing Phoebe’s presence, customers flow into the shop all day. Gingerbread sells out once again, thanks to... (full context)
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Later that day, Hepzibah gives Phoebe a tour of the House of the Seven Gables, showing her Colonel Pyncheon’s portrait and... (full context)
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...a quiet and not unpleasant person, and she can’t bring herself to send him away. Phoebe protests that he sounds “lawless,” but Hepzibah has had reason to mistrust human law in... (full context)
Chapter 6: Maule’s Well
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After tea, Phoebe goes into the garden. She is surprised to see evidence that the garden has been... (full context)
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As Phoebe is befriending the chickens, Holgrave appears with a hoe in hand, surprising her. Phoebe introduces... (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... (full context)
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Inside, Phoebe finds Hepzibah sitting in the darkened parlor. As Phoebe lights a lamp for her, she... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Guest
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The next morning, Phoebe finds Hepzibah already in the kitchen. Hepzibah is staring at a cookbook, trying to find... (full context)
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Hepzibah, trembling and tearful, tells a puzzled Phoebe that her heart is overflowing. She murmurs about “poor Clifford.” Phoebe hears the same hesitant... (full context)
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Hepzibah introduces Phoebe and helps the man into a chair. He struggles to take in his surroundings. Watching... (full context)
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...taste and an appreciation for beauty. It’s also evident in the way he smiles at Phoebe’s loveliness and recoils at Hepzibah’s age. He delights in a crimson rose Phoebe has picked... (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... (full context)
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Phoebe realizes that Judge Pyncheon is the subject of the miniature daguerreotype which Holgrave had shown... (full context)
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When Phoebe looks again, however, Judge Pyncheon has resumed his sunny, benevolent mood. Phoebe stays reserved, unable... (full context)
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Phoebe hasn’t heard these rumors and isn’t very familiar with the Pyncheon family history. But she... (full context)
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When Phoebe tries to stop Judge Pyncheon from entering the house unannounced, he sets her aside, reminding... (full context)
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After the Judge leaves, Hepzibah rests her head on Phoebe’s shoulder, calling the Judge “the horror of [her] life.” She sends Phoebe to calm and... (full context)
Chapter 9: Clifford and Phoebe
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Hepzibah turns to Phoebe, who quickly establishes herself as indispensable to both Clifford and Hepzibah. The house itself becomes... (full context)
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Clifford grows youthful as he spends more time with PhoebePhoebe’s beauty and solidity draw him back into the world, creating a home around her and... (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 the garden, where Uncle Venner and Holgrave have made repairs to... (full context)
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After Phoebe goes to church on Sundays, she, Clifford, Hepzibah, Holgrave, and Uncle Venner gather in the... (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,... (full context)
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...the display that he puts his foot on the windowsill, as if to step outside. Phoebe and Hepzibah, terrified, hold him back. Even Clifford is unsure whether he was moved by... (full context)
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...sunshine, the sound of the church bells tolling across the city, and the sight of Phoebe walking off to church with a wave and a warm smile. He tells Hepzibah that... (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 the evening. She often goes for walks, or shopping,... (full context)
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Phoebe’s only youthful companion is the daguerreotypist, Holgrave. They don’t have much in common, and under... (full context)
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...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 confidence regarding his inner being, yet she’s... (full context)
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Holgrave also strikes Phoebe as cool and detached—well-meaning, yet without deep affection. Because of this, she can’t figure out... (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, and today he... (full context)
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...out that the atmosphere in the House of the Seven Gables isn’t wholesome, either. Annoyed, Phoebe asks why he chooses to live there. He explains that he is its student—if the... (full context)
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Phoebe is surprised that Holgrave believes the story of Maule’s curse on her Pyncheon ancestor. Holgrave... (full context)
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...Colonel Pyncheon appears to have “perpetuated himself” in the subject of Holgrave’s daguerreotype, Judge Pyncheon. Phoebe is startled by Holgrave’s passion. He admits that the topic has seized him “with the... (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 into a drowsy state. He realizes that if he chose, he could attain... (full context)
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...feeling of youth. He says he has seldom felt happier than he does right now. Phoebe admits that she is no longer as merry as she used to be. Since she... (full context)
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Holgrave argues that Phoebe has not lost anything that was worth keeping. He says that one’s first youth is... (full context)
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Phoebe explains that he is returning to the country for a few days in order to... (full context)
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...analytical than compassionate: he also perceives that their family drama is drawing to an end. Phoebe is distressed by this—it seems to her that for Holgrave, her relatives’ sufferings are like... (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... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Scowl and Smile
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In Phoebe’s absence, things at the House of the Seven Gables are dreary: a storm sets in,... (full context)
Chapter 18: Governor Pyncheon
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...Gables would pass down not to the Judge’s descendants, but to Clifford and Hepzibah and Phoebe. (full context)
Chapter 19: Alice’s Posies
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...enter the house yesterday, and he encourages Holgrave to pick one of Alice’s Posies for Phoebe. (full context)
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...and barrel organ stop by with a mob of children in tow, accustomed to drawing Phoebe’s kind face to the window. In an “intermingling of tragedy with mirth,” the Italian boy... (full context)
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...take the card to the city authorities. Not long after, a cab pulls up, and Phoebe steps out. Unsuspecting, she tries various doors, with no success. Ned Higgins shouts a warning... (full context)
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Phoebe lets herself into the garden, where she finds only the chickens and a strange cat.... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Flower of Eden
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In contrast to the brightness outside, the interior of the House is so shadowy that Phoebe cannot tell at first who has opened the door. A warm, gentle hand draws her... (full context)
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Holgrave tells Phoebe that she must be strong and help him cope with a terrible thing that has... (full context)
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Phoebe can’t help noticing that Holgrave seems remarkably calm, as if he had expected this to... (full context)
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Although Clifford’s flight makes him look guilty, Phoebe says they must entrust the situation to God and call in witnesses. Holgrave agrees, yet... (full context)
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Phoebe does not believe that a man like Holgrave could find her interesting, or that she... (full context)
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...weary footsteps enter. Clifford and Hepzibah are home. Hepzibah bursts into tears of relief when Phoebe runs to embrace her. Clifford smiles at them. He thought of both of them, he... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Departure
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...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 worth... (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 House of the Seven Gables and establish themselves in... (full context)
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Holgrave then reveals to Phoebe that he is a descendant of the Maules. He already knew about the secret spring.... (full context)
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Phoebe invites Uncle Venner to come and live with them on the estate, where he can... (full context)