Despite the complexity of his personality, she understood him. He resembled his ancestor, the colonel physically and in his greed and pretentiousness as well. Hawthorne describes how the terror and ugliness of Maule's crime "darkened" the freshly painted walls of the house until it became a gray, feudal castle.
By using the present tense, one feels as if he were within the story as it unfolds before him. The once proud prosperity of the Pyncheons has given way to poverty for most of the family and the original injustice of old Colonel Pyncheon has descended as retribution upon the present inhabitants.
The story thus, as Hawthorne states, includes fantastical occurrences, improbabilities, and attempts to connect the past with the present, sacrificing literal authenticity for more abstract truths.
When Holgrave finishes his story, Phoebe is shocked, appearing to be in a trance similar to that which afflicted Alice Pyncheon, but Holgrave soon snaps her out of it. Judge Pyncheon visits once more and demands to see Clifford.
And Clifford is standing beside him. It is the ancestral Pyncheon house, owned by a family with a long tradition.
The Pyncheon family seemed poised to remain prominent, yet the family steadily declined throughout the subsequent generations. The simple fact that a curse hangs over the family is not enough to damn them all; only when a Pyncheon grasps for excessive wealth or power is he or she brought down.
He manages to force Hepzibah to let him see her brother and she goes up to fetch him.As the house and its inhabitants have decayed, the elm tree has grown almost as though it were nourished by the decay of the Pyncheon family. She blames Jaffrey for the imprisonment of Clifford, the Pyncheon mentioned earlier who was convicted of murder and whose return from prison after many years is imminent. Throughout the novel, Phoebe exhibits the character traits of being cheerful, helpful, and selfless. In view of Hawthorne's habit of using only details that are most significant, certain images should be noted here. Hepzibah refuses to allow Jaffrey access to Clifford, despite the Judge's offer to take Clifford off her hands. Although he was highly esteemed for his wealth and high position, legend has it that he usurped the land on which his house stood from a poor fellow named Matthew Maule. After receiving their inheritance, Phoebe, Clifford and Hepzibah move into Judge Pyncheon's mansion, leaving Holgrave in the property rightly belonging to his ancestors. Her visit to the gloomy mansion is one where she makes living almost bearable to an ordinary person by drastically lightning up the atmosphere of the mansion. When an organ-grinder stops and plays for him, Clifford suddenly goes into hysterics and nearly jumps off of the balcony.