The Ghosts in the House of the Seven Gables
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
We discuss this symbol a bit under "The House of the Seven Gables," so we won't repeat ourselves too much here. We just want to point out that the House is not only haunted by Pyncheon specters of the past. It is also haunted by the laughing figures of the Maule family. When Alice Pyncheon is hypnotized, she sees three ghostly figures. One is Colonel Pyncheon, clearly trying to tell her something about the Maine deed. But two other figures physically stop him: Thomas and Matthew Maule. And when the deceased Pyncheons all float into the parlor in Chapter 18, there is a an elderly man "nodding, jeering, mocking" (18.21) and laughing at them as they each frown at the portrait (with its hidden deed behind it). In a sense, this is rather tragic: even if Matthew Maule enjoys spending his eternity laughing at the helpless Pyncheons, he is still trapped in the House of the Seven Gables along with the rest of them. The past keeps the Maules prisoner just as much as it does the Pyncheons.