The House of Seven Gables

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AP English Lang & Comp Discussion Questions.                                                         1.Who would you say is the principal protagonist of The House of the Seven Gables? Who is the principal antagonist? The House of the Seven Gables does not have one obvious protagonist like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye or Hamlet in Hamlet. Instead, many of the novel’s characters grow and change throughout the novel, all contributing to the plot development. Holgrave fits this description, though his change is somewhat peripheral, almost an afterthought Hawthorne rushes through in the final chapters. Phoebe blossoms into womanhood, becoming wiser as she grows older, but when she arrives at the Pyncheon homestead, she is so removed from the events of the house that the story really cannot be called hers. Hepzibah and Clifford, on the other hand, are rooted in the house’s tradition of misery, and the story focuses extensively on their transition from living in fear and constraint to more sustained happiness and freedom. They are the best examples of protagonists that we meet in The House of the Seven Gables.

The antagonists—the characters or forces who oppose the protagonist and create conflict—are less obvious. Although the menacing Judge Pyncheon provides the clearest conflict and is the most likely antagonist, he is in some ways no more responsible for the troubles of Clifford and Hepzibah than any Pyncheon ancestor. He is certainly the novel’s most tangible villain, but his close ties to the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon make him seem more of a figurehead for past evils than an independent operator. Because the Judge’s actions move the novel and drive it forward, we could even consider him the novel’s main protagonist. In naming him the protagonist, we should keep in mind that he stands for 200 years of tainted -Pyncheon history.                         3.Could The House of the Seven Gables be written from the perspective of Judge Pyncheon? How...
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