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The conflict of the novel can be viewed on both a literal and symbolic level.
The protagonist is Clifford, whom the Judge believes has the secret to the wealth of the Pyncheons; but he is isolated in the House of the Seven Gables and close to insanity.
The antagonist is Judge Pyncheon, who is in constant search of the old map which he believes is in the house and of which Clifford knows the secret.
Climax: The Judge dies a natural death due to apoplexy in the same manner that his forefather, Colonel Pyncheon had died. With his death, it appears that the old curse of Matthew Maule has been fulfilled.
The story ends in comedy. After the Judge's death, Hepzibah and Clifford inherit the property of the Judge, come out of their isolation, and leave the house and its aristocratic heriage to its sad memories. In addition, Holgrave, a descendant of the Maules, marries Phoebe, a descendant of the Pyncheons; their love for one another ends the enmity between the two families and their postive, democratic outlook overcomes the stuffy aristocratic views represented by Hepzibah and Clifford.
On a symbolic level, the protagonist is the new democratic way of life, as represented by Phoebe and Holgrave.
The antagonist is the old aristocratic life style represented by Hepzibah and Clifford.
The climax on the symbolic level again occurs at the time of Judge Pyncheon's death, for after he is gone, Clifford and Hepzibah leave the House of the Seven Gables and its aristocratic hold, take a train trip, and attempt to embrace humanity (the new democratic way of life). Although they do not successfully make the necessary break during the train trip and eventually return to the House of the Seven Gables, it is a temporary return. The trip has prepared them to make the final move out of the house with Phoebe and Holgrave. The move is symbolic of their putting their aristocratic trappings away.
As a result, the symbolic level of conflict also ends in comedy, with the new, more honest, democratic way of life overcoming the old pretentious aristocratic life style.