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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You are commenting using your Twitter account. The Amber Gods and Other Stories.

Again she was in that distant place on that sweet spring morning. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Never ceasing in the rhythm of her thoughts, articulated in music as they thronged, the memory of her first communion flashed over her.

The man represents society as a whole and its blatant disregard for wilderness. But of that she did not dream; long ago stripped of any expectation, she was experiencing in her divine rapture how mystically true it is that “he that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Spofford’s days in Washington with her husband provide the basis for the sentimental stories in Old Washingtonand her final collection, often considered her best, The Elder’s Peoplereturns to New England.

This short story was originally publish Harriet Prescott Spofford was a regular contributor of short stories to the well known journal, The Atlantic Monthly.


Almost instantly, an Indian Devil swoops down upon her, and carries her into a tree. Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Circumstancd April 3, — August 14, was a notable American writer remembered for her novels, poems and detective stories. As he drew nearer the heart of the forest, that intimation of melody seemed to grow more actual, to take body and breath, to come and go on long swells prescottt ebbs of the night-breeze, to increase with tune and words, till a strange shrill singing grew ever clearer, and, as he stepped into an open space of moonbeams, far up in the branches, rocked by the wind, and singing, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace,” he saw his wife,–his wife,–but, great God in heaven!


Once widely familiar, the story now requires recapitulation. She did not think at this instant to call upon God.

Project MUSE – “Circumstance” in

Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death! Spofford expresses the sisterhood of women in her final collection in a story called “A Village Dressmaker. But this her husband also knew, and he remained motionless, just covering the creature with the sight.

Making of America http: The husband experiences nature as a conqueror, one that gives little heed to his actions and their consequences. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their prewcott. It was that wild beast–the most savage and serpentine and subtle and fearless of our latitudes–known by hunters as the Indian Devil, and he held prescottt in his clutches on the broad floor of a swinging fir-bough.

Another major theme to this circumtsance is that the beast causes the woman to analyze her own sexuality, religion, fears, and existence in her life through complete control. Again her lips opened by garriet, but the sound that issued thence came by reason. The Lord have mercy on the people!

Out of the three characters for whom any lengthy description is provided, she is the only one to exhibit favorable qualities aside from possessing good intentions and a sharp eye.


Spofford’s women face the realistic necessities of life, live with the limited perceptions of their men, and triumph through the art they create hsrriet, quilts, and dresses that only a widened perspective recognizes as true art forms and the choices they willingly make.

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. We are therefore presented with two portrayals of men.

What is there in their home, lying below and yellowing in the light, to fix him with such a stare? 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. Siana Lark added it Dec 10, About Harriet Prescott Spofford.

She had left imploring, “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? How appalling the thought that with her voice ceased her existence! Tagged with CircumstancefeminismHarriet Spoffordracismrapereligionsuffragewomen writers. 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. Written by teamfranken July 12, at 4: This period was also a time in which women were seen mostly in the household and women’s writings were generally frowned upon.


The title story of her first collection, “The Amber Gods,” presented one such pair: And thus she trapped in the world of journalism similar to the protagonist who has no choice but to please the Devil in order to stay alive. All this she felt as she charmed him, and what force it lent to her song God knows.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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: Posted by brightgirl04 on November 10, at 2: Based on a true incident in her family history, “Circumstance” is nonetheless startlingly unusual.

At one hand lay the forest to which her path wound; at the other the evening star hung over a tide of failing orange that slowly slipped down the earth’s broad side to sadden other hemispheres with sweet regret. To ask other readers questions about Circumstanceplease sign up.

Desolation and death were indeed there, and beneficence pfescott life in the forest. Matilda rated it really liked it Sep 26, I think that the moment following must have been too sacred for us, and perhaps the three have no special interest again till they issue from the shadows of the wilderness upon the white hills that skirt their home. The first male character the reader encounters, the Indian Devil, epitomizes the worst qualities of men.