© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Matthew Maule II

Character Analysis

We call this character Matthew Maule II to distinguish him from his grandfather, but really, they're both Matthew Maules: they both share the same angry, vengeful spirit. It's not just the Pyncheons who are passing down bad blood through the family line; the Maules aren't any great shakes either. We learn about Matthew Maule II when Mr. Holgrave writes down this part of the family history and publishes it as a magazine story. Mr. Holgrave reads the tale to Phoebe in Chapter 13.

Matthew Maule II is a carpenter whom Gervayse Pyncheon (Colonel Pyncheon's grandson) calls in to the House of the Seven Gables one day. By playing on Gervayse Pyncheon's greed, Matthew Maule II manages to get the man to agree to give up the House of the Seven Gables if Matthew Maule II can produce the deed to the Pyncheons' property in Maine. Matthew Maule II keeps Gervayse dangling on the hook for long enough to put the man's daughter under hypnosis before finally revealing that he has no intention of giving Gervayse all of this wealth. Gervayse is furious, but there's nothing he can do – Matthew Maule II is the stronger man.

Matthew Maule II keeps hypnotic control over Alice Pyncheon from a distance. He makes her embarrass herself in public with inappropriate laughing, crying, or singing. She grows so humiliated that she tries to withdraw from the world. But Matthew Maule II won't let her. One night, he brings her to his wedding so that she can wait on his bride. She wakes up in the middle of the ceremony, just in time to realize what he has been making her do. She kisses the bride and walks straight out into the cold, where she catches an illness that kills her.

Oddly, Matthew Maule II is furious at this. He had planned to embarrass her, not kill her. Like the Pyncheons Maule hates so much, he doesn't realize his own strength. He also has very little mercy. The result is an innocent death in the Pyncheon family.