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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Conclusion of HSG

Holgrave is the first to discover the body of Judge Pyncheon after the flight of the two siblings. He reveals the body to Phoebe, who has returned from a visit back home in the countryside. The return of the siblings to the mansion allows Holgrave to reveal to everyone he is a Maule and he knows the location of the lost land deed that has haunted the Pycheon family for two centuries. Hoglrave also reveals his love for Phoebe, which she also has for him. Holgrave defies the past by marrying a Pyncheon, and the families are finally brought together. The curse is finally broken. Clifford, though not as effervescent as on the train, is no longer afraid of the harm Judge Pyncheon can cause him.

Both Clifford and Holgrave sought to be free of the past by getting rid of the conventional "home" for temporary modes of the living. But both come to the same conclusion that one can be free from the past and still have stability. Holgrave states,

"I have a presentiment that, hereafter, it will be my lot to set out trees, to make fences,--perhaps, even, in due time, to build a house for another generation,--in a word, to conform myself to laws and the peaceful practice of society." (Chapter 20)

Clifford inherits Judge Pyncheon's house according to his will and permanently leaves the old Pyncheon house, taking along Hepzibah, Phoebe, and Holgrave.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Train Ride

When Clifford and Hepzibah escape the Pyncheon mansion, Clifford leads her to the train station, and they go on a ride to an undetermined destination. Whereas before Hepzibah was like the parent and Clifford like the child, the two siblings reverse roles once they leave the House. Everything begins to speed up, and Hepzibah has trouble keeping up with Clifford. "They could see the world racing past them." Clifford declares, "I have never been awake before," acknowledging his first real vision of life.

During the time on the train, Clifford becomes more vocal than at any other time in the narrative. Before he almost seemed mute and spoke using short phrases, but all of a sudden he becomes verbose and speaks effervescently, divulging a philosophy similar to that of Holgrave, stating that man should lead a nomadic existence. He declares that the "invention of the railroad...is destined to do away with those stale ideas of home and fireside, and substituting something better." Hawthorne describes him as having a "winged nature," free to fly wherever he wanted. After having been trapped most of his life, Clifford realizes that "the soul needs air," giving a sense of his need to escape the prison in which he has been imprisoned. The death of Judge Pyncheon is the key that unlocks him from his prison.

But Clifford realizes that life is moving to fast for him and hands the reigns back to Hepzibah, saying "You must take the lead now, Hepzibah! Do with me as you will!" Speeding up life can fatiguing and one must go at one's own speed; change too suddenly can be a bad thing. Hawthorne shows that one must have a destination, not just a desire for movement.

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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