The House of the Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
Chapter 18
Summary

Governor Pyncheon: Judge Pyncheon remains in the House of the Seven Gables, dead but with his eyes open. He continues to hold his watch, which continues to move without him. It was supposed to be a busy day for Jaffrey, and he currently is missing all that he had planned. He was to visit a family physician, whom the Judge would have told that he was experiencing dimness of sight and dizziness. That night, instead of sitting dead in the House of the Seven Gables, Jaffrey Pyncheon was to meet with members of his party and announce his candidacy for governor.

Analysis

Hawthorne uses this chapter for lightly comic purposes directed at Judge Pyncheon. The chapter details all of the appointments that the Judge is missing, on the account of his untimely death, approaching the situation as if the stern old man were remiss in his duties. It also begins to shed light on the actual cause of Jaffrey’s death. The dizziness and vision problems demonstrate a problem with Jaffrey’s brain; his death was likely caused by his impending stroke, an explanation that holds true for the earlier death of Colonel Pyncheon. The timing of the stroke was such that it seemingly implicated Clifford. Hawthorne includes the details of Jaffrey’s schedule to show the power that he may have attained. If he had not died that evening, Judge Pyncheon may have become governor, a situation that was mercifully averted.

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