This weeks reading really gave me the impression that there is no curse. The Pyncheon family only thinks that there is, and they could be happy if they only left the house. Clifford has been watching through the windows as said in chapter 11; he has seen the happiness on the street outside of the house. Hepzibah and Clifford were so close to going to church in that same chapter, but they just aren't ready yet.
I understand what you mean, Taylor. I think it's a symbol about how some things bound you in imaginary chains. The illusion that the house, the Judge, and everything else that is "personified" creates a deceitful atmosphere making everyone living inside the house feel powerless against the very thing that shelters them. I feel like at some point there is going to be a rebelion. But I don't know yet.
I think that Phoebe was the only thing in that house keeping everyone alive. Now that she's gone, it seems that despair, discouragement, and melancholy roam the air, affecting attitudes and influencing their lives. It appears that happiness has no place inside The House Of The Seven Gables.
I agree that after Phoebe left things definitely went down hill for Clifford and Hepzibah. I liked how in the end the Pyncheons and the Maules were joined together by Phoebe and Holgrave's love for each other.
I'm glad that this story had a happy ending becuase it seemed like it would be gloomy throughout the whole book.