The Blithedale Romance

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Blithedale Romance: Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Around midnight Coverdale goes to the farmhouse and calls to Hollingsworth to come out. Coverdale is alarmed by the sound of his own voice. Hollingsworth comes outside and asks what’s wrong. Coverdale asks if he’s seen Zenobia and Hollingsworth states that he hasn’t, nor does he expect to. Silas leans out a window to see what’s going on, so Coverdale urges him to come down and help them. Silas grumbles, but he pulls his clothes on. Meanwhile, Coverdale shows Hollingsworth a handkerchief and explains his suspicions. When Silas comes out, Hollingsworth explains the same thing to him. Silas bluntly repeats that Coverdale thinks Zenobia drowned herself and wonders why she would even think of doing it. Coverdale urges Silas to help him find out, so Silas goes to get equipment, muttering the whole time that it must be a mistake.
Zenobia asked Coverdale to tell Hollingsworth that he murdered her. Now that Coverdale suspects that Zenobia has committed suicide, her words take on new meaning. Zenobia is not an impulsive person, so she probably did know what she was going to do when she gave Coverdale this message. This also makes the moment she removes her flower all the more symbolic—she really is removing her identity, both by giving away her flower and then by ending her own life.
Themes
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Silas, Coverdale, and Hollingsworth hurry down to the water. After waking up, Coverdale felt himself drawn to the spot. He points out some footprints leading to the water and Silas finds Zenobia’s shoe; Coverdale takes it as a keepsake. The men get into a boat and start rowing back and forth, stabbing a hay-rake into the water trying to find Zenobia’s body. After several passes, Coverdale wonders if they’ll ever find her and Silas says she probably just lost her shoe in the mud and will laugh at them all over breakfast in the morning. However, moments later Hollingsworth jabs the rake into the water, and they feel him hit Zenobia’s body. They pull her body to shore and lie her out under a tree. Her body is rigid, and it almost looks like she’s praying. Hollingsworth is horrified when he realizes he stabbed her heart with the rake.
Hollingsworth is so struck by the fact that he accidently stabbed Zenobia in the heart because he’s also aware that he broke her heart just a few hours previously. This is the moment when Hollingsworth really understands that he caused Zenobia so much pain that she felt she had to kill herself. Even though Zenobia’s body looks like she died in the act of prayer, it also indicates that she struggled in her final moments and was probably very scared. This makes her death even more tragic because it seems like she didn’t really want to die.
Themes
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coverdale, Hollingsworth, and Silas make a bier to carry Zenobia’s body back. The thought occurs to Coverdale that Zenobia probably would have chosen a different method of suicide if she knew how terrifying her body would look. He believes she was thinking of pictures of gorgeous maidens peacefully floating down a river. Coverdale argues that this shouldn’t take away from the tragedy of the situation, but instead it actually highlights how corrupt society is that not even committing suicide can be simple.  The men get Zenobia to the farmhouse and leave her body with some tire-women.
Part of the reason Zenobia and Coverdale established Blithedale was to enjoy a simpler life. However, in choosing how to end her life, Zenobia’s choices reveal that she never really embraced simplicity. She tries to choose a picturesque death that will make her look beautiful and peaceful. Instead, her corpse seems to reflect her inner pain and turmoil. Tire-women are women who specialize in preparing corpses for burial, which is why Coverdale and Hollingsworth give them Zenobia’s body.
Themes
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon