Character Analysis Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon


The image of the Judge's inward self is alternately like a gray adamantine rock, and then it becomes very much like a heavily brooding cloud, embodied with a coldness that is the precise opposite of his outward "warmth." His benevolence is counterfeit. His evil is manifested in excess and discordance, and he passes from one extreme to the other.

The "big, heavy, solid unrealities" of gold, real estate, and clothes are embodied by the Judge. Distinguished by the "studied property of his dress and equipment," he and his benign smile are as superficial as the shine on his boots. In ironic contrast to Hepzibah, the "snowy whiteness" of the Judge's linen hides the dark, corpselike soul within. He is a super-patriot; he is convinced that the fate of the country is staked on the November election, and he hopes to become governor.

The Judge is heavy-set, dresses in black, and carries a cane with a gold-plated head. His outward appearance is filled with virtue, and kindness, and generosity, but he is obsessed with a grasping after wealth and power. In fact, he symbolizes Pyncheon pride and greed; from somewhere inside him, the corpse of the old Colonel is "diffusing its death scent." Judge Jaffrey is a man of wealth, a politician, a judge, a churchgoer, and a civic-minded citizen, but he is, above all else, a clever and selfish man. He steals from his bachelor uncle, has his cousin Clifford sent to prison for a murder which Clifford did not commit, and now he harasses his cousin Hepzibah. In addition, he does not even repair the fallen tombstone of his dead wife.

Back to Top