The Blithedale Romance

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Priscilla / The Veiled Lady Character Analysis

Priscilla is Zenobia’s half-sister, Moodie’s daughter from his second marriage, the woman behind the Veiled Lady act, and a founding member of Blithedale. She is a quiet, deferential, and obedient person who—despite having a difficult past—finds joy in living at Blithedale. When Priscilla arrives at Blithedale, she immediately attaches herself to Zenobia, who does not yet know that Priscilla is her half-sister, or that Priscilla has specifically come to Blithedale to get to know her. While the two do grow close (despite Zenobia’s annoyance at Priscilla’s clingy and subservient personality), the major fault-line of their relationship is that they both love Hollingsworth, and Zenobia senses that Hollingsworth loves Priscilla, too. Zenobia’s jealousy creates some tension between the two women, but Priscilla is so trusting and loving that she doesn’t seem to sense it. This makes Priscilla vulnerable, and Zenobia betrays her by handing her over to the sinister mesmerist Professor Westervelt, who manipulates and controls Priscilla, making her part of his stage act in which she wears a veil and performs mystical feats. However, Priscilla’ deep love for Hollingsworth proves stronger than her obedience to Westervelt. When Hollingsworth shows up at a Veiled Lady performance and tells Priscilla to come with him, she walks offstage and joins him, eventually becoming his wife. The love between Priscilla and Hollingsworth leads Zenobia to kill herself in despair, but nonetheless, Priscilla and Hollingsworth remain together at the story’s end. In general, Priscilla, is willing to do, say, or believe whatever those around her tell her to (at one point, she even tells Coverdale that she has no free will), and this makes her a good match for the chauvinist and controlling Hollingsworth.

Priscilla / The Veiled Lady Quotes in The Blithedale Romance

The The Blithedale Romance quotes below are all either spoken by Priscilla / The Veiled Lady or refer to Priscilla / The Veiled Lady. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Blithedale Romance published in 1983.
Chapter 8 Quotes

“Did you ever see a happy woman in your life? Of course, I do not mean a girl—like Priscilla, and a thousand others, for they are all alike, while on the sunny side of experience—but a grown woman. How can she be happy, after discovering that fate has assigned her but one single event, which she must contrive to make the substance of her whole life? A man has his choice of innumerable events.”

Related Characters: Zenobia (speaker), Miles Coverdale, Priscilla / The Veiled Lady
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Chapter 9 Quotes

Thus, as my conscience has often whispered me, I did Hollingsworth a great wrong by prying into his character, and am perhaps doing him as great a one, at this moment, by putting faith in the discoveries which I seemed to make. But I could not help it. Had I loved him less, I might have used him better. He—and Zenobia and Priscilla, both for their own sakes and as connected with him—were separated from the rest of the Community, to my imagination, and stood forth as the indices of a problem which it was my business to solve.

Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
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“For, little as we know of our life to come, we may be very sure, for one thing, that the good we aim at will not be attained. People never do get just the good they seek. If it come at all, it is something else, which they never dreamed of, and did not particularly want. Then, again, we may rest certain that our friends of to-day will not be our friends of a few years hence; but, if we keep one of them, it will be at the expense of the others—and, most probably, we shall keep none.”

Related Characters: Miles Coverdale (speaker), Priscilla / The Veiled Lady
Page Number: 75-76
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 23 Quotes

How strangely she had been betrayed! Blazoned abroad as a wonder of the world, and performing what were adjudged as miracles—in the faith of many, a seeress and a prophetess—in the harsher judgment of others, a mountebank—she had kept, as I religiously believe, her virgin reserve and sanctity of soul, throughout it all. Within that encircling veil, though an evil hand had flung it over her, there was as deep a seclusion as if this forsaken girl had, all the while, been sitting under the shadow of Eliot’s pulpit, in the Blithedale woods, at the feet of him who now summoned her to the shelter of his arms. And the true heart-throb of a woman’s affection was too powerful for the jugglery that had hitherto environed her.

Related Symbols: The Veil
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Priscilla / The Veiled Lady Character Timeline in The Blithedale Romance

The timeline below shows where the character Priscilla / The Veiled Lady appears in The Blithedale Romance. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Old Moodie
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On the night before Coverdale goes to Blithedale, he goes to see the Veiled Lady . Coverdale explains that she’s one of the first figures to win fame in the... (full context)
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...a name she uses to obscure her true identity from the world, much like the Veiled Lady ’s veil, but a little more transparent. Moodie thanks Coverdale but says that he’d still... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Supper-table
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...to always be close to Zenobia. When Zenobia asks, the girl says her name is Priscilla, but she’s unwilling to share her last name. Coverdale repeats this name to himself until... (full context)
Chapter 5: Until Bedtime
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...Silas works on a pair of shoes and Mrs. Foster knits. Coverdale notices how trustingly Priscilla surrenders herself to Zenobia’s care. Coverdale theorizes that Priscilla worships Zenobia because she has read... (full context)
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Priscilla pulls some materials out of her bag and starts making a unique type of purse... (full context)
Chapter 6: Coverdale’s Sick-chamber
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...in particular. In his fever, Coverdale becomes convinced that Zenobia is an enchantress, probably the Veiled Lady ’s sister, and her flower has magical properties. Zenobia laughs at this, but Coverdale never... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Convalescent
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When Coverdale begins to recover from his illness, he asks about Priscilla. A letter that should have reached Blithedale long before has been delivered and it hints... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Modern Arcadia
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...of Zenobia and someone else laughing. In the barn he sees that Zenobia is decorating Priscilla with blossoms and greenery, but Coverdale also notices an ugly weed. The mischievous glint in... (full context)
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Priscilla sees Hollingsworth coming in from the field and runs to meet him. Halfway there, she... (full context)
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...without being strengthened by it. This makes Coverdale realize that Hollingsworth has two followers—Zenobia and Priscilla—and he wonders what they all plan to do with each other. (full context)
Chapter 9: Hollingsworth. Zenobia, Priscilla
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...he might have been more objective in his assessments. As it is, Hollingsworth, Zenobia, and Priscilla stand apart from the rest of Blithedale and seem like a problem that Coverdale must... (full context)
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...his friend and repulsion for his single-mindedness. Furthermore, Coverdale feels it’s his duty to save Priscilla from thinking too much of Hollingsworth, as many young women might. Hollingsworth is affectionate with... (full context)
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Priscilla has become beautiful and energetic, always running and playing with other girls. As she settles... (full context)
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Hollingsworth tells Priscilla to stop running around for the night, so she contentedly sits at his feet on... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Visitor from Town
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Hollingsworth playfully scolds Coverdale, saying that surely Coverdale has already figured out that Priscilla makes the purses. Hollingsworth tells Moodie it’s good that he’s come to visit Priscilla—she’s grown... (full context)
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...tells Hollingsworth that nothing would make him happier than to see the “beautiful lady” holding Priscilla’s hand. Hollingsworth says they might catch them doing just that and leads Moodie towards the... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Wood-path
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...the man stops him with another question—whether there is a pale, weak young girl named Priscilla there. Instead of answering, Coverdale asks the man for his name. The man gives him... (full context)
Chapter 12: Coverdale’s Hermitage
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...as oxen and questions what gives Hollingsworth the right to be the driver. Coverdale sees Priscilla and tells a passing bird to warn her about Zenobia and Hollingsworth. He tells the... (full context)
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...distinctive laugh in the forest below and he realizes that his thoughts about Zenobia, Hollingsworth, Priscilla, and Blithedale were actually reflections of Westervelt’s opinions, and his influence has darkened Coverdale’s mind.... (full context)
Chapter 13: Zenobia’s Legend
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...she has in mind isn’t quite a ghost story but close to it. She tells Priscilla to stand in front of her so Zenobia can draw inspiration from Priscilla’s eyes. Coverdale... (full context)
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Everyone has heard of the Veiled Lady , who once drew huge crowds but abruptly disappeared months earlier. Zenobia tells of the... (full context)
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...patience with speculating and says he’ll make a bet that he can find out the Veiled Lady ’s real identity that night. After some discussion, the men agree to terms and Theodore... (full context)
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Theodore steps forward to lift the Veiled Lady ’s veil, but she steps back and tells him there are conditions he must hear... (full context)
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...the magician grabs and enslaves the Lady. At this moment, Zenobia throws some gauze over Priscilla, leaving her shaken and scared.   (full context)
Chapter 14: Eliot’s Pulpit
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...the scenery around Blithedale or take long naps in the barn. Hollingsworth, Coverdale, Zenobia, and Priscilla make a habit of going to a strange nearby rock formation they call Eliot’s Pulpit,... (full context)
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...and wishes women were the religious leaders instead, since women were made for religious work. Priscilla says she can’t believe what he says and doesn’t want to believe it’s true. Zenobia... (full context)
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Priscilla contentedly smiles up at Hollingsworth, happily absorbing everything he says. Coverdale knows the type of... (full context)
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Without another word, the group gets up and heads back. Priscilla skips on ahead, followed by Hollingsworth and Zenobia, and Coverdale in the back. Coverdale sees... (full context)
Chapter 15: A Crisis
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Coverdale asks Hollingsworth what’s supposed to happen to Priscilla. Suddenly Hollingsworth looks fierce and asks why Coverdale insists on bringing her and Zenobia into... (full context)
Chapter 16: Leave-takings
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...Coverdale’s life at Blithedale has become troublesome since his argument with Hollingsworth—even his friendship with Priscilla and Zenobia changes after the fight. Although they’re kind to him, Coverdale senses a change... (full context)
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...she can’t confide in him now that he’s leaving. Coverdale goes to say goodbye to Priscilla, who’s making another purse. He asks her if she’ll still be there when he comes... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Boarding-house
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...late night at the theater. His sleep was tormented by dreams about Hollingsworth, Zenobia, and Priscilla. In one, Hollingsworth and Zenobia bend across his bed to passionately kiss each other. Priscilla... (full context)
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...immediately drops the curtain so Coverdale can’t see into the room anymore. Coverdale notices that Priscilla is no longer in the other room doing needlework. (full context)
Chapter 19: Zenobia’s Drawing-room
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For the rest of the day, Coverdale wonders why Zenobia and Priscilla are in town instead of at Blithedale. He feels insulted by Zenobia’s decision to shut... (full context)
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...absurd instead of heroic. Coverdale doesn’t respond to this but asks Zenobia if she brought Priscilla. He mentions that he always worried about Priscilla spending so much time with Hollingsworth. Coverdale... (full context)
Chapter 20: They Vanish
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Priscilla immediately answers Zenobia’s call and comes into the room. This is somewhat surprising to Coverdale,... (full context)
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Zenobia wonders why Coverdale never considered falling in love with Priscilla, insinuating that social class had something to do with it. Coverdale replies that he would... (full context)
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Coverdale is on the verge of leaving after Zenobia’s outburst, but he catches sight of Priscilla huddled in a corner and goes up to her first. He asks her if she... (full context)
Chapter 21: An Old Acquaintance
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After Coverdale’s interview with Zenobia and Priscilla, he admits that it would be reasonable for him to find new places to go... (full context)
Chapter 22: Fauntleroy
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...but dies shortly thereafter. Fauntleroy’s second daughter is pale and nervous, but affectionate. Fauntleroy tells Priscilla stories about her beautiful, wealthy half-sister instead of fairy tales until she grows to love... (full context)
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...Zenobia and they accept her choices. For inexplicable reasons, Zenobia chose to join Blithedale and Priscilla—who, at the time, was in a mysterious bondage—found out and followed her there.  (full context)
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A few months after Priscilla’s departure, Zenobia goes to Fauntleroy’s rooms. Coverdale doesn’t know the details of their conversation, but... (full context)
Chapter 23: A Village-hall
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...Coverdale struggles to put his memories of Blithedale and his concern for Zenobia, Hollingsworth, and Priscilla behind him. Try as he might, he can’t stop thinking about them and wondering what... (full context)
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...bearded man enters the stage. Coverdale recognizes Professor Westervelt; he shudders and asks Hollingsworth where Priscilla is but gets no answer. Westervelt beckons the Veiled Lady forward to take her seat... (full context)
Chapter 24: The Masqueraders
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...happier his heart is—he can almost imagine that Hollingsworth will warmly shake his hand, and Priscilla and Zenobia will greet him with open arms. Coverdale keeps thinking of them as he... (full context)
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...step forward, but she says he’s missed quite the scene. Coverdale realizes he’s at Eliot’s Pulpit—Priscilla is sitting at Hollingsworth’s feet and Zenobia is standing in front of them. (full context)
Chapter 25: The Three Together
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Hollingsworth is wearing his usual clothes, but Zenobia and Priscilla are both in costume. Zenobia is wearing a jeweled flower in her hair still and... (full context)
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...with Westervelt, her and Hollingsworth’s intentions towards each other, and how much Zenobia knew about Priscilla’s victimization. (full context)
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...money. Hollingsworth says she didn’t. Zenobia accepts this and asks if he’s in love with Priscilla. Hollingsworth says that he always felt like an older brother to her, but now he... (full context)
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...about men or women. She tells him to leave, but before walking away, Hollingsworth tells Priscilla to come with him. Zenobia smiles, sensing that Hollingsworth’s faith in himself has been injured. (full context)
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Priscilla shakily stands up, totters over to Zenobia, and collapses at her feet. Zenobia tells Priscilla... (full context)
Chapter 26: Zenobia and Coverdale
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...Hollingsworth has thrown away something that would have been better for him. She wonders what Priscilla can do for him and then claims the best Priscilla can do is give him... (full context)
Chapter 28: Blithedale-pasture
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...insists that they bury her on the hillside where they planned to build their cottage. Priscilla and Moodie go to the ceremony together, as do Hollingsworth and Coverdale. Together, they watch... (full context)
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Coverdale worries about Priscilla but knows that her heart only has room for a single all-consuming affection. While Zenobia’s... (full context)
Chapter 29: Mile’s Coverdale’s Confession
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...disappointing life and shed new light on his past behavior: he was in love with Priscilla. (full context)