Study Guide

The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 16

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter 16

Clifford's Chamber

  • Hepzibah goes back inside the House of the Seven Gables.
  • She has a feeling that something new, something unprecedented in the Pyncheon family history, is about to take place.
  • Hepzibah is sure that Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon will destroy Clifford.
  • She is also sure that Clifford has no access to the secret Judge Pyncheon believes he holds.
  • She has nowhere to turn for help.
  • Who would side with Clifford against well-respected Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon?
  • She thinks of going to Mr. Holgrave, but he's not there.
  • She looks out the arched window at the sky and sends up a prayer, but she doesn't feel any response.
  • At last Hepzibah goes to knock on Clifford's door. No one answers.
  • Hepzibah asks if she can come in.
  • She finds Clifford's room empty.
  • Hepzibah looks down into the garden to see if Clifford has gone out somehow.
  • She sees "a strange grimalkin" – meaning an old house cat – walking across the garden.
  • Hepzibah throws a stick at it to frighten it away.
  • But still, Hepzibah cannot see Clifford.
  • She can't imagine that he would have run away – he would be treated so badly by the public!
  • Hepzibah suddenly wonders whether Clifford might have decided to end it all and throw himself into the sea.
  • Hepzibah is so frightened by the thought that she runs to Judge Pyncheon.
  • She begs Judge Pyncheon to help her.
  • She finds him sitting in that chair in the parlor – the same chair, supposedly, where Colonel Pyncheon was found dead 150 years before.
  • Judge Pyncheon doesn't move, even when Hepzibah screams, "Do you hear me, Jaffrey Pyncheon?" (16.22).
  • Clifford walks into the parlor. He looks crazy. His face is filled with a wild expression of "scorn and mockery" (16.23).
  • Clifford tells Hepzibah that they can dance now – they can do whatever they like.
  • Hepzibah realizes that Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon is dead.
  • Clifford suggests that they leave the House of the Seven Gables. After all, Judge Pyncheon "will take good care of it!" (16.28).
  • Hepzibah is in such a panic that she agrees without question.
  • She grabs her cloak and follows Clifford.
  • She keeps thinking that she will awake from this dream, but she never does.
  • And so Clifford and Hepzibah leave the House of the Seven Gables.
  • Inside, Judge Pyncheon's body is sitting by himself "in the old home of his forefathers" (16.35).