Captivity, Childbirth, and the Civil War in Harriet Prescott Spofford’s ” Circumstance”. Theresa Strouth Gaul. Texas Christian University. Harriet Prescott Spofford’s. Spofford, Harriet. “Circumstance.” The Online Archive of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writings. Ed. Glynis Carr. Online. Internet. Posted: Winter Circumstance has 10 ratings and 0 reviews. Harriet Prescott Spofford was a regular contributor of short stories to the well known journal, The.

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Again her lips opened by instinct, but the sound that issued cirucmstance came by reason. Spofford’s women face the realistic necessities of life, live with the limited perceptions of their men, and triumph through the art they create songs, quilts, and dresses that only a widened perspective recognizes as true art forms and the choices hrariet willingly make. He half closed his eyes, and sleepily reopened and shut them again. Tomahawk and scalping-knife, descending during that night, had left behind them only this work of their accomplished hatred and one subtle foot-print in the snow.

Once widely familiar, the story prrscott requires recapitulation. When she pauses or tires, the animal restores her to her task by piercing her skin OED Word of the Day: And here she was singing it alone, in the forest, at midnight, to a wild beast!

From start to finish, Circumstance is spoffore feminist piece. In her descriptions and fancies, she reveled in sensuous delights and every variety of splendor.

Meanwhile, her husband, caring for their child, becomes exceedingly worried for her as she has been gone for much longer than expected.

She was not dying for her faith; there were no palms in heaven for her to wave; but how many a time had she declared,–“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness!

She begins thinking of her husband, her best friend. Up and down and round about her voice flew, the beast threw back his head so that the diabolical face fronted hers, and the torrent of his breath prepared her for his feast as the anaconda slimes his prey.


The husband proceeds a step or two in advance; the wife lingers over a singular foot-print in the snow, stoops and examines it, then looks up with a hurried word. The three embrace one another and return to their home, finding their community in complete desolation and its people dead from the ‘ true Indian Devils ,’ leaving the readers to the final line of the tale: Franticly she darted from tune to tune; his restless movements followed her.


Paula Bennett and Vernon A. Fick, “A ‘Masterpiece’ of the ‘Educated Eye’: How the night was passing! High and clear through the frore fair night, the level moonbeams splintering in the wood, the scarce glints of stars in the shadowy roof of branches, these sacred anthems rose,– rose as a hope from despair, as some snowy spray of flower-bells from blackest mould.

Project MUSE – “Circumstance” in

A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebookeds. It is this feminine trait that saves her, and even if a man were to think of singing, it is unlikely that his voice would have the same effect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: The Indian Devil is clearly a manifestation of unbridled male sexuality. Stephanie Papale marked circumwtance as to-read Sep 25, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

How many a time she had heard her husband play it on harrier homely fiddle made by himself from birch and cherry-wood! Spofford always finds the vermilion and azure threads woven into the duns and grays of the New England life and women she knew so well. Although the husband is the character who finally ends the cat while the woman saves herself through seducing it.

The protagonist first falls victim to the perils of the wilderness at the hands of a vicious beast; however, rather than succumb to the hopelessness of her situation she acts in the only way she knows how, she sings. Again the cocks crowed with the passing hour,–the last time they were heard on circmustance night.

Circumstance (short story) – Wikipedia

Water, be it cold or warm, that which buoys up blue ice-fields, or which bathes tropical coasts with currents of balmy bliss, is yet a gentle conqueror, kisses as it kills, and draws you down gently through darkening fathoms to its heart. Thus the beast represents the hardships that the artistic woman must face during her life. All this struck her in one, and made a sob of her breath, and she ceased.


To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. She attended the Putnam Free School in Newburyport, Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford April 3, — August 14, was a notable American writer remembered for her novels, poems and detective stories.

The Indian Devil can represent males and how they restrain women from accomplishing everything they are capable of doing. The Atlantic Monthly [1]. As the beast continues to attack and subdue her, she begins to come to terms with her life and her religion. Still singing, she felt herself twisted about with a low growl and a lifting of the red lip from the glittering teeth; she broke the hornpipe’s thread, and commenced unravelling a lighter, livelier thing, an Irish jig.

Where most circmstance succumb to sheer terror, she, a woman, is quick-witted enough to think of a way to stop the Indian Devil from devouring her. The period in which Spofford began writing was a bridge between romanticism and realism. But this her husband also knew, and he remained motionless, just covering the creature with the sight.

Harriet Prescott Spofford epofford a regular contributor of short stories to the well known journal, The Atlantic Monthly.

Circumstance (short story)

She did not circumstace the distance, but rose to drop herself down, careless of any death, so that it were not this. Walking rapidly now, and with her eyes wide-open, she distinctly saw in the air before her what was not there a moment ago, a winding-sheet,–cold, white, and ghastly, waved by the likeness of four wan harrieg rose with a long inflation, and fell in rigid folds, while a voice, shaping itself from the hollowness above, spectral and melancholy, sighed,– “The Lord have mercy on the people!

She cried rather, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: