This essay discusses Hawthorne's engagement with the crisis of property ownership and, by extension, political legitimacy in The House of the Seven Gables. The Pyncheon property was wrongfully seized from its original owner, Matthew Maule; this crime was sanctioned by the Puritan community and is synonymic with that group's programmatic economic and cultural usurpation and domination of the colony. While Phoebe's marriage to Holgrave unites the two families and addresses the novel's immediate injustice, the larger issue of atonement is achieved by Phoebe's uncompromised virtue as she confronts the Pyncheon legacy, and, by implication, the crimes on which the existent social order is predicated. In accord with the liberal Christianity of the period, sin is represented not as inherited condition but as willed action.

You do not currently have access to this content.