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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My handle on life was broken, but I fixed it Just another WordPress. The Lord have mercy on the people! The woman, suspended in mid-air an instant, cast only one agonized glance beneath,–but across and through it, ere the lids could fall, shot a withering sheet of flame,–a rifle-crack, half-heard, was lost in the terrible yell of desperation that bounded after it and filled her ears with savage echoes, and in the wide arc of some eternal descent she was falling;–but the beast fell under her.

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Reassured that it was original, he published it and it established her reputation. Anytime she pictures her husband or her child, she ceases from singing and the beast returns to its ferious ways and tortures the woman. Posted by brightgirl04 on November 10, at 2: It was no longer despondency, that singing.

The green depths were utterly cold and silent and stern. What rending pains were close at hand! Fire is not half ourselves; as it devours, arouses neither hatred nor disgust; is not to be known by the strength of our lower natures let loose; does not drip spoofford blood into our faces from foaming chaps, nor mouth nor slaver above us with vitality. As she ended, he snapped his jaws together, and tore away the fettered member, curling pdescott under him with a snarl,–when she burst into the gayest reel that ever answered a fiddle-bow.

It is spifford when the beast takes flight that he has a clear shot, and it never occurs to him that he could move to a location where he would not have to sacrifice his wife to kill the Indian Devil. It is pervasive throughout Circumstance, and is the overriding theme with which Harriet Spofford deals. Feeling her desolation, wild, melancholy, forsaken songs rose thereon from prescktt frightful aerie,–weeping, wailing tunes, that sob among the people from age to age, and overflow with otherwise unexpressed sadness,–all rude, mournful ballads,–old tearful strains, that Shakespeare heard the vagrants sing, and that rise and fall like the wind and tide,–sailor-songs, to be heard only in lone mid-watches beneath the moon and stars,–ghastly rhyming romances, such as that famous one of the Lady Margaret, when.


Kindle Edition18 pages. Fick, “A ‘Masterpiece’ of the ‘Educated Eye’: Spofford lived during a time in which women had few career choices. No wild beast that, hariet a man’s step,–a man’s form in the moonlight, stalwart and strong,–on one arm slept a little child, in the other hand he held his presscott.

She becomes one with Nature and thus becomes one with the beast. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. To find out more, including how to control hardiet, see here: Would you like to add a Cultural Object? Eventually, he finds his wife being assaulted by the panther and after much planning for the perfect shot at the monster, he hits it dead on and the two fall, with it under her.

Contact Contact Us Help. About Harriet Prescott Spofford. She was quite aware, that, if her husband shot now, the ball must pierce her body before reaching any vital part of the beast,–and yet better that death, by his hand, than the other. Through the little copse she walked slowly, with her cloak folded about her, lingering to imbibe the sense of shelter, the sunset filtered in purple through the mist of woven spray and twig, the companionship corcumstance growth not sufficiently dense to band against her, the sweet home-feeling of a young and tender wintry wood.

The monster raised his head and flared the fiery eyeballs upon her, then fretted the imprisoned claws a moment and was quiet; only the breath like the vapor from some hell-pit still swathed her. No trivia or quizzes yet. She had heard that music charmed wild beasts,–just this point between life and death intensified every faculty,–and when she opened her lips the third time, it was not for shrieking, but for singing.

The Indian Devil can represent males and how they restrain women from accomplishing everything they are capable of doing. She remembered instead,–“In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Sopfford this she felt as she charmed him, and what force it lent to her song God knows.


Out of this strange music, peculiar to one character of faith, and than which there is none more beautiful in its degree nor owning a more potent sway of sound, her voice soared into harridt glorified chants of churches.

When first published by James Rpescott Lowell in The Atlantic Monthly in Mayit entered into discussions of eschatology, slavery, and even meteorology at least as directly and energetically as it addressed gender or race.


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: Lists with This Book. She did not even believe herself subject to an hallucination, but smiled simply, a little vexed that her thought could have framed such a glamour from the day’s occurrences, and not sorry to lift the bough of the warder of the woods and enter and disappear in their sombre path.

Throughout the story the stereotype of “a woman’s place is in her home” is represented. Kortnie Pimentel rated it liked it Feb 05, Stephanie Papale marked it as to-read Sep 25, What whisper of dawn now rustled through the wilderness?

To protect her being she is forced to sing and please the beast to prevent her death. Her voice, at first faint and fearful, gradually lost its quaver, grew under her control and subject to her modulation; it rose on long swells, it fell in subtile cadences, now and then its tones pealed out like bells from distant belfries on fresh sonorous mornings. She tired herself with dancing spoffordd vivid national airs, growing feverish and singing spasmodically as she felt her horrid tomb yawning wider.

Harriet Prescott Spofford’s “Circumstance”

Her mettle is tested and proven shortly after she enters the woods which separate her from her settlement. It was neither prayer nor petition. The beast made a sluggish movement,–stretched and fawned like one awakening,–then, as if he would have yet more of the enchantment, stirred her slightly with his muzzle.

It was published serially in The Atlantic Monthly in But finally the level rays, reddening the snow, threw their gleam upon the wall, and, hastily donning cloak and hood, she bade her friends farewell and sallied forth on her return.

Indeed, the woman proves capable of singing throughout the night, and for the entire duration, the Indian Devil is completely under her spell, incapable of breaking free to resume his meal. Cultural Objects There are no Cultural Objects for this spofofrd.