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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Judge Pyncheon

Judge Jaffary Pyncheon, the other brother of Hepzibah, is a rich, influential, and respected member of his community.

The Judge, beyond all question, was a man of eminent respectability. The church acknowledged it; the state acknowledged it. It was denied by nobody. In all the very extensive sphere of those who knew him, whether in his public or private capacities, there was not an individual--except Hepzibah, and some lawless mystic, like the daguerreotypist, and, possibly, a few political opponents--who would have dreamed of seriously disputing his claim to a high and honorable place in the world's regard. Nor (we must do him the further justice to say) did Judge Pyncheon himself, probably, entertain many or very frequent doubts, that his enviable reputation accorded with his deserts. His conscience, therefore, usually considered the surest witness to a man's integrity,--his conscience, unless it might be for the little space of five minutes in the twenty-four hours, or, now and then, some black day in the whole year's circle,--his conscience bore an accordant testimony with the world's laudatory voice. (Chapter 15)

Pyncheon himself was convinced of his own righteousness. Unlike his piteous sister who carries a scowl, though only because of her nearsightedness, Pyncheon carries a smile though a deceptive one and one that could turn to frown very quickly, as Phoebe found out in her only encounter with the Judge when she drew back from a proffered kiss. The Judge responded with a "voice as deep as a thunder-growl, and with a frown as black as the cloud whence it issues." (Chapter 8) Hawthorne used the incident to illustrate that light and dark cannot co-exist.

Judge Pyncheon looks just like his ancestor Colonel Pyncheon, who is responsible for the Pyncheon curse. He has inherited a deep guttural sound that projects from him. Similarly, he has also inherited the greed that caused the Colonel to take the land belonging to the Maule family and build the titular edifice. This greed has caused him to seek endlessly for a deed to more land in Maine.

The Judge's greed leads him to the Pyncheon mansion to inquire of Clifford the location the lost land deed. He dies while waiting for Hepzibah to bring Clifford to him, and the two siblings flee the house. Finally, the curse is broken.

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