The Blithedale Romance

Major characters

Miles Coverdale: The story's protagonist and narrator, Coverdale is a simple observer of the activities of the Blithedale farm. However, his narrative occasionally exaggerates or becomes dreamlike and is not entirely trustworthy.[1] At points in the novel seems to practice mild voyeurism. He is a supporter of women's equality, as evidenced in an argument with Hollingsworth. He is typically mild-mannered, though often strange and illogical. He is consistently curious about his surroundings, leading to his voyeurism and mostly unsupported speculations on his fellow residents. Though he seems to fancy Zenobia and certainly regards her as beautiful, the last line of the story reveals that he is truly in love with Priscilla. However, critics often identify a strongly homoerotic relationship between Coverdale and Hollingsworth.[2]

Old Moodie: Though introduced as Old Moodie, he was formerly known as Fauntleroy, a wealthy but immoral man who loses his riches in a financial scandal. He is separated from his beautiful wife and daughter and disowned by the rest of his family. Years later, poorer and wiser, he remarries and has a second daughter. Coverdale uses him to discover the backgrounds of Zenobia and Priscilla, who are his two daughters.

The Veiled Lady: She is a mystical character, first introduced as a public curiosity, who suddenly disappears from the public's eye. Her story is developed in a type of ghost story narrated by Zenobia in a segment entitled The Silvery Veil. She is said to have been held captive by the curse of the veil, a symbol which in Hawthorne's literature typically represents secret sin.[3] She is controlled by the magician Westervelt, and is eventually revealed to be Priscilla herself when Hollingsworth removes the veil.

Hollingsworth: A philanthropist overly concerned with his own ideals, he comes to the farm with Priscilla having been told she has a place there. He becomes good friends with Coverdale during the other's sickness, but his attempts to recruit the other to his cause eventually cause enough tension for a split in the friendship. He believes in the reform of all sinners and attempts to use Blithedale and its residents to achieve these ends, instead of those supported by the group. He is rumored to have a relationship with Zenobia partway through the novel, and they plan on building a cottage together. However, he falls for Priscilla, saving her from the fate of the Veiled Lady, and breaks up with Zenobia, which causes her to commit suicide.

Silas Foster: Coverdale describes him as “lank, stalwart, uncouth, and grizzly-bearded.” He is the only resident that seems to be truly experienced in the art of farming. He is level-headed and sensible, and is the first to suggest Priscilla stay upon her arrival. He is one of the three men to search for and find Zenobia's body and, while displaying proper sadness and emotion, also accepts her death with the most ease.

Mrs. Foster: She is first to welcome Coverdale to Blithedale, wife of Silas Foster. She manages the farm and plays only a small role in the novel.

Zenobia: Beautiful and wealthy, she wears a different tropical flower in her hair every day. She is admired by both Hollingsworth and Coverdale, though both eventually fall for her sister Priscilla instead. Priscilla herself is also quite taken with the older woman and follows her around the farm. Zenobia's main vice is pride, and she has an unusual and unexplained prior relationship with Professor Westervelt. She is the daughter of Old Moodie's first, prosperous marriage when he was still referred to as Faunteleroy. She is often thought to be analogous to Margaret Fuller, a real life resident of Brook Farm.[4]

Priscilla: A fragile, mysterious girl brought to the farm by Hollingsworth. She makes intricate purses that Coverdale considers a “symbol of her mystery.” She is known to frequently pause as if responding to a call, though no other characters hear it. She becomes progressively more open and less frail throughout the novel and develops a strong attachment to Hollingsworth on top of her sisterly affections for Zenobia. She is eventually revealed to be the second daughter of Old Moodie, as well as the alterego of the Veiled Lady. Hollingsworth frees her from the curse of the veil, and at the book's close she remains attached to him.

Professor Westervelt: Stumbles into the plotline looking for Priscilla and Zenobia. Coverdale takes an immediate distaste to him and describes him with such language as one would describe the devil. In fact, much of the imagery Coverdale uses, such as the flames on Westervelt's pin and the serpent-headed staff he carries are direct references to Satan. He presumably has a former, possibly romantic, relationship with Zenobia. He is revealed to be the magician controlling Priscilla near the end of the book, and his last appearance is at Zenobia's funeral where he criticizes her foolish suicide.

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