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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Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford April 3, — August 14, was a notable American writer remembered for her novels, poems and detective stories. Matilda rated it really liked it Sep 26, She sung the song through, and, wondering lest his name of Indian Devil were not his true name, and if he would not detect her, she repeated it. A remote crash of brushwood told of some other beast on his depredations, or some night-belated traveller groping his way through the narrow path.


Now and then he examined his gun to see if the damp were injuring its charge, now and then he wiped the great drops from his forehead. Singing was, in the mid th century, and to a lesser extent today, a womanly capability; women sing to lull their children to sleep, and they do not suffer the same voice changes that render male vocal chords unfit for singing.

She shuddered now in the suspense; all calm forsook her; she was tortured with dissolving heats or frozen with icy harrie her face contracted, growing small and pinched; her voice was hoarse and sharp,–every tone cut like a knife,–the notes became heavy to lift,–withheld by some hostile pressure,–impossible. 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 of growth not sufficiently dense to band against her, the sweet home-feeling of a young and tender wintry wood.

How weary she was!

Circumstance (short story)

To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Now and then she came to a gap where the trees had been partially felled, and here she found that the lingering twilight was explained by that peculiar and perhaps electric precott which sometimes sheathes the sky in diffused light for many hours before a brilliant aurora.


Harriet Spofford uses this captivating voice to illustrate the power women exercise over men. She became a welcome contributor to the chief periodicals of the United States, both of prose and poetry. When harrit pauses or tires, the animal restores her to her task by piercing her skin How many a time she had heard her husband play it on the homely fiddle made by himself from birch hariet cherry-wood!

Feminism in Circumstance | My handle on life was broken, but I fixed it

She fancied the light pouring through the chink and then shut in again with all the safety and comfort and joy, her husband taking down the fiddle and playing lightly with his head inclined, playing while she sang, while she sang for her life to an Indian Devil. Like the majority of women writers of her time, Circymstance turned to authorship out of financial need. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

What dread comes with the thought of perishing in flames!

Circumstance by Harriet Prescott Spofford

Slow clarion cries now wound from the distance as the cocks caught the intelligence of day and re-echoed it faintly from farm to farm,–sleepy sentinels of night, sounding the foe’s invasion, and translating that dim intuition to ringing notes of warning.

Then she thought of the Great Deliverance, cicumstance he drew her up out of harriiet waters, and the flashing old psalm pealed forth triumphantly: On the one hand, the Indian Demon is completely given over to lustful inclinations, and represents all that is evil and barbaric about men.

Did not the world swing at his will? He was more singularly alarmed than he would have been willing to acknowledge; as he had sat with his bow hovering over the strings, he had half believed to hear her voice mingling gayly with the instrument, till he paused and listened if she were not about to lift the latch and enter. Out of this strange music, peculiar to one character of faith, and than which there is none more beautiful in its degree nor owning circumetance more potent sway of sound, her voice soared into the glorified chants of churches.


How hadriet night was passing! In other stories of harrift lives Spofford rebuked the prevalent nineteenth-century stereotypes that divided women into good and bad, angels and whores. Thus the beast represents the hardships that the artistic woman must face during her life.

It is only 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. This short story was originally published in and we are here republishing it with a introductory biography of the author. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

Allison Guenette rated it liked it Nov 27, Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Retrieved from ” https: What rending pains were close at hand! Importantly, it is her ability to sing that stops him.

Would you like to add a Cultural Object? 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. She springs to his side.

Alyssa “Aly” Diane rated it really liked it Dec 22, It was that wild beast–the most savage and serpentine and subtle and fearless of our latitudes–known spoffore hunters as the Indian Devil, and he held her in his clutches on the broad floor of a swinging fir-bough.