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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Oh, sublime faith of our fathers, where utter self-sacrifice alone was true love, the fragrance of whose unrequired subjection was pleasanter than that of golden censers swung in purple-vapored chancels!

When she pauses or tires, the animal restores her to her task by piercing her skin If her voice should fail! Return to Book Page. Posted by brightgirl04 on November 10, at 2: He dared not fire, lest some wound not mortal should break the spell exercised by her voice, and the beast, enraged with pain, should rend her in atoms; moreover, the light was too uncertain for his aim.

Her husband stands alone on the hill, his arms folded across the babe, his gun fallen,–stands defined as a silhouette against the pallid sky. Never ceasing in the rhythm of her thoughts, articulated in music as they thronged, the memory of her first communion flashed over her.

Spofford began writing after her parents became sick, sometimes working fifteen hours a day. 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.

A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebookeds. Fick, “A ‘Masterpiece’ of the ‘Educated Eye’: Again her lips opened by instinct, but the sound that issued thence came by reason. She begins thinking of her husband, her best friend.


He knew she would never leave the child so long but for some direst need,–and yet he may have laughed at himself, as he lifted and wrapped it with awkward care, and, loading his gun and strapping on his horn, opened the door again and closed it behind him, going out and plunging into the darkness and dangers of the forest.

As the beast continues to attack and subdue her, she begins to come to terms with her life and her religion. When first published by James Russell 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.


When he appears, it is with their baby in hand. Her writing, as illustrated in this story, was both romantic and fantastic. Spofford’s women face the realistic necessities of life, live with the limited perceptions of their cirxumstance, and triumph through the art they create songs, quilts, and dresses that only a widened perspective recognizes as true art forms and the choices they willingly make.

A Scarlet Poppy did not appear untilbut the years between and were filled with other writings. 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.

It must have been the echo, most musical, most resonant, repeated and yet repeated, dying with long sighs of sweet sound, vibrated from rock to river and back again from depth to depth of cave and cliff.

Circumstance (short story)

Suddenly, a swift shadow, like the fabulous flying-dragon, writhed through the air before her, and she felt herself instantly seized and borne aloft. She tired herself with dancing and vivid national airs, growing feverish and singing spasmodically as she felt her horrid tomb yawning wider. And thus she trapped in the world of journalism similar to the protagonist who has no choice but to please the Devil circmustance order to stay alive.


It was no longer despondency, that singing. His uselessness is further confirmed when he cannot fire at the Indian Devil without first hitting his wife.

Frequently also in Spofford’s fiction male characters must learn to appreciate individual differences among women.

How weary she was! Where most would succumb to sheer terror, she, a woman, is quick-witted enough to think of a way to stop the Indian Devil from devouring her. A Journal of American Women Writers The other male character presented in Circumstance, the equally nameless husband of the female protagonist, is also used to show men in a negative light; he is a well-meaning fool.

Harriet Prescott Spofford’s “Circumstance”

She cried rather, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Circusmtance will fear no evil: 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 pescott sweet regret. Again the cocks crowed with the passing hour,–the last time they were heard on that night.

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. It seemed spofford her that she had but one friend in the world; that was he; and again the cry, loud, clear, prolonged, echoed through the woods. About Harriet Prescott Spofford.