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The following excerpts from Gloria C. Erlich's Family Themes and Hawthorne's Fiction The Tenacious Web indicate possible models for some of the personality traits of Hepzibah Pyncheon in The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

"Elizabeth Hawthorne [Nathaniel Hawthorne's mother who was widowed when Nathaniel was four] shared her family's liability to pulmonary disorders and headaches but lacked their compensating energy." (63) Hepzibah also lacked energy. Her endeavor to open a Cente Shoppe drained more energy from her. Phoebe's young and vibrant energy was the element needed to make the shop a success. "After the first great shock of her life [Elizabeth] tended to insulate herself in secure and familiar circumstances." (63) Elizabeth's isolating herself in her parent's home after her sea captain husband died of disease is parallel to Hepzibah's isolating herself in Seven Gables after her beloved brother Clifford is sentenced to prison for the murder of his uncle (Erlich 63).

"The testimony of Horatio Bridge, Nathaniel's close friend from college . . . connects Hawthorne's personal reserve and avoidance of intimacy to his family's isolated way of life. '[Hawthorne] . . . formed few intimacies and rarely sought the friendship of others.'" (Erlich 66) Bridge's description of Hawthorne fits Hepzibah and later her brother Clifford. Both live apart from the townspeople and seem to have no intimate relationships besides the ones they form with Phoebe and the connection with their boarder Holgrave and Uncle Venner whom they dine with on Sundays.

Erlich, Gloria C. Family Themes and Hawthorne's Fiction - The Tenacious Web, copyright c. 1984 by Rutgers the State University. Reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press.


Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11589/


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