The narrator of the work, and possibly a stand-in for Hawthorne himself, Coverdale is a fervent adherent to Blithedale's cause, and begins the narrative full of hope about the experiment. He begins friendships with Zenobia, to whom he seems to be attracted, Hollingsworth, and Priscilla; he later alienates all of them, Hollingsworth for not joining his reform cause, and Zenobia for prying into her affairs. He is consistently watching and observing his friends, often judging them or growing bitter that they will not confide in him. At the end of the novel, he leaves Blithedale and remains a bachelor; he laments his lack of purpose, but is comfortable. He confesses that he loved Priscilla.
Wild, startlingly gorgeous, imperious, tempestuous in spirit, and theatrical, Zenobia (not her real name) is the half-sister of Priscilla and the possible lover of Hollingsworth. She is identified by an exotic flower in her hair. She is committed to Blithedale, but her unrequited love for Hollingsworth leads her to despair and eventually suicide. It is suggested that she had an earlier marriage, probably to Westervelt; rumors about her abound, though most people are cowed by her vibrancy. She is dedicated to women's rights, but cannot reconcile their conflict with elements of her own life.
A tall, handsome, and large man singularly dedicated to his philanthropic cause of criminal reform, he engages in the Blithedale experience to have access to willing supporters and the land itself. He has something of a Puritan magistrate in him, and is an entrancing orator. He is initially friends with Coverdale, but the two have a falling out after Coverdale refuses to join his cause. Both Zenobia and Priscilla love him, and although it is implied that he and Zenobia have a sexual relationship, he ends up choosing Priscilla and marrying her. He spends the remainder of his days ruing Zenobia's suicide, and brings little happiness to Priscilla.
The young, pale daughter of Old Moodie and half-sister to Zenobia, Priscilla is easily manipulated and seems to have no free will. Coverdale compares her to a leaf on the wind. She is obsessed with Zenobia, but cannot remain true to her when she falls in love with Hollingsworth; it is said she can only have one great passion at a time. She is also the Veiled Lady, controlled by Westervelt, but she abandons that persona to be with Hollingsworth. At the end of the novel she is married to him, but seems unhappy.
Old Moodie is a humble, retired old man of the town, who shows an interest in Zenobia and Priscilla at the beginning of the novel. Once Coverdale seeks him out, though, he reveals his true identity as Fauntleroy, a once-wealthy man with a checkered past. He had Zenobia by his first wife, but left his family after he committed a crime. He remarried and had Priscilla, who became obsessed with finding her older sister, long since out of her father's life. As Old Moodie, he is pensive and sad: he laments his life choices but has difficulty rectifying them.
A gruff and grisly yeoman-farmer who, while committed to the Blithedale experience, never seems to enjoy the philosophical or artistic currents of the place. He helps discover Zenobia's body at the end of the novel.
A handsome, impeccably dressed and eerily suave "Professor," who controlled Priscilla as the Veiled Lady and had a past relationship with Zenobia (the exact parameters of which are unknown). Zenobia despises him; Coverdale finds him malevolent, but cannot help seek out the secrets he possesses. He is known for the bit of gold in his teeth, contributing to the mask-like nature of his face.
The Blithedale Romance Questions and Answers
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