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The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables(1940)


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In the 17th century, the curse of Matthew Maule, whose land was stolen from him by Geoffrey Pyncheon, looms over the Massachusettes estate known as the House of Seven Gables. One hundred and sixty years later, Gerald Pyncheon summons his son Jaffrey home to announce that the family is bankrupt and that he plans to sell the house. Gerald's announcement provokes an argument between his eldest son Clifford, who wishes to move to New York and wed his cousin Hepzibah, and Jaffrey, who is intent upon keeping the house. Later that night, Clifford discovers Jaffrey searching for a map to treasure that is rumored to be hidden in the house. The next day, the town is abuzz with the news of the sale of Seven Gables when Gerald changes his mind and refuses to sell the house. Clifford violently objects, and in a heated argument with his son, Gerald drops dead. Jaffrey seizes the opportunity to disinherit his brother by accusing him of murdering their father. Convicted by circumstantial evidence and sentenced to prison for life, the innocent Clifford invokes a curse on his brother. Jaffrey, who is anxious to begin his search for the fabled treasure, is astounded when he discovers that Gerald has deeded the house to Hepzibah to avoid his creditors. Denouncing Jaffrey, Hepzibah banishes him from the house and devotes her life to freeing Clifford. Years later, Clifford meets Matthew Maule, the descendent of the fabled Maule, when the young man is sentenced to prison for his abolitionist activities. Twenty years have passed when the dark house is finally brightened with the arrival of Phoebe Pyncheon, a young cousin who has come to live with Hepzibah. Phoebe attracts the attention of Hepzibah's border, Matthew Holgrave, and she helps her cousin to open a scent shop. On the day that Jaffrey appears to reproach Hepzibah, word comes of Clifford's pardon. With Clifford's return, rumors begin to circulate about his search for the ancestral treasure. Jaffrey, now a judge, questions Matthew about the treasure, and Matthew piques his interest. Angry at Matthew for his seeming betrayal, Hepzibah orders him from the house, despite Phoebe's lovelorn protests. While cleaning Matthew's room, Hepzibah discovers that his real name is Matthew Maule and warns Clifford to leave. Clifford then confides that Matthew is his friend and is part of his scheme to win complete vindication. Soon afterward, Jaffrey visits Clifford and threatens to commit him, and in response, Clifford offers him the deed to the house in return for his retraction of the the murder accusation. As Jaffrey refuses, a group of abolitionists, whose money Jaffrey has lost through reckless investments, rallies, and Jaffrey, fearing for his life, signs the confession and then drops dead, thereby falling victim to the family curse. Exonerated of all guilt, Clifford is free to marry Hepzibah, and they wed in a double ceremony with Matthew and Phoebe.