Character Sketch: Phoebe Pyncheon
Phoebe is presented as a hard working character in the book. When Hepzibah tells her that she has no financial means to sustain her at the house, Phoebe says that she can earn her own way. She prepares breakfast after she arrives at the house and volunteers to tend the shop for the day when the bell rings. She even proves to have an excellent customer relationship and this impresses Hepzibah. Phoebe’s hard work can also be seen in the way she attends to the run down garden and feeds the chicken even though this is not her work. She feels responsible for restoring the garden back to life. Holgrave even compliments phoebe for her ability to feed the chicken. When Phoebe learns that her aunt is expecting a special guest, she offers to bake a cake for breakfast using her mother’s special recipe.
Phoebe is intuitive and this makes her a good judge of character from the first interaction she has with a person. When she first meets Judge Puncheon, she does not like his character and as such, she avoids his kiss because she thinks that he is harsh. She believes that his smile is hypocritical and lacks genuineness. In addition to this, Phoebe also notices Clifford’s sadness and unjust suffering now that he is an old man. She figures that he has a kind and beautiful heart that has been suppressed by the adversity of life. The author also notes that she sensed love from Hepzibah’s heart even though her outer appearance is not lovable.
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She is loving. When Clifford is released from prison after 30 years, Phoebe takes an initiative to care for him by taking him to the garden every afternoon where she read for him in the summer house. She is relentless in her efforts to nurse Clifford back to good health. Her love and enthusiastic spirit transforms the gloomy house into a cheerful place. She exhibits kindheartedness and care for he cousin Hepzibah who notes that she is different from the rest of the family. When Ned Higgins goes to buy food for his mother, Phoebe gives him a cookie for free even though he had not asked for it. In The House of the Seven Gables, Phoebe’s character does not change. She still remains to be a virtuous person with a likeable personality even as the story comes to an end.
The theme of morality and ethics runs throughout the story. The author uses the characters in the book to develop the integrity of the characters. Mathew Maule is presented as a humble character with no sense of wickedness. Colonel Pyncheon, on the other hand, is presented as a wicked person with malicious intentions. He is portrayed as a greedy person who has no regard for ethical principles. Judge Jaffrey does not abide by the acceptable moral codes as seen from his greed for wealth and power. Clifford is presented as a kind hearted person with a genuine heart even after he is released from prison. Even though Hepzibah seems to have a tough personality, her actions conform to the acceptable moral code. Phoebe is the embodiment of righteousness and morality in the book. Even her cousin Hepzibah, believes that she is different from the other members of the Pyncheon family. She has a good heart and puts the interest of others first.
The actions and personalities of the characters in the book are used to develop the theme of morality and ethics within the society. Maule, Clifford, Hepzibah, Phoebe are epitomes of the virtuous life in the story. Colonel Pyncheon and Judge Jaffrey Puncheon on the other hand represent the theme of immorality in the society. The crimes committed by members of the Pyncheon family symbolize the evil side of a person. The author successfully shows the extent people are willing to go in order to get what they want. The characters who go against morality and ethics ruin the lives of others and still consider themselves as virtuous members of the society. Public approval, family background and heredity play a significant role in the development of the theme.