The Blithedale Romance

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Professor Westervelt is the enigmatic magician who controls the Veiled Lady. It’s also implied that he is Zenobia’s estranged husband whose cruelty made her flee their marriage. Both Westervelt’s physical appearance and his behavior are sinister and deceptive. He has dazzling white teeth, but there is a golden rod in his mouth, which indicates that his teeth—like his personality—are false. He is very handsome and well-dressed, and he uses a cane that has a snake’s head on the top, which contributes to the rumors that he’s demonic and dangerous. Westervelt first enters the narrative when Miles Coverdale runs into him in the woods surrounding Blithedale. Coverdale immediately takes a disliking to him, despite not knowing who he is, and he is suspicious when Westervelt asks about Zenobia and Priscilla, indicating that the three are connected. While Hawthorne never fully reveals the nature of the connection between these three characters, it’s clear that Westervelt has tremendous power over both Zenobia and Priscilla. Zenobia asks God to release her from whatever connection she has with Westervelt (likely a marriage), which supports the idea that Westervelt is evil and possibly has supernatural demonic powers. (If Zenobia needs God’s help to get free of him, then Westervelt’s influence must be stronger than a mere marriage contract.) He also has tremendous power over Priscilla; once Zenobia betrays Priscilla and hands her over to Westervelt (possibly because Westervelt blackmailed her), Priscilla tells Coverdale that she has no free will. She becomes the Veiled Lady in Westervelt’s mesmerism shows, where she follows all his orders and he exploits her for his own financial gain, highlighting his belief that other people are just tools for him to use. Westervelt takes his influence over other people for granted, which makes it doubly devastating for him when Priscilla runs away with Hollingsworth and Zenobia commits suicide.

Professor Westervelt Quotes in The Blithedale Romance

The The Blithedale Romance quotes below are all either spoken by Professor Westervelt or refer to Professor Westervelt. 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:
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Blithedale Romance published in 1983.
Chapter 12 Quotes

Now, as I looked down from my upper region at this man and woman—outwardly so fair a sight, and wandering like two lovers in the wood—I imagined that Zenobia, at an earlier period of youth, might have fallen into the misfortune above indicated. And when her passionate womanhood, as was inevitable, had discovered its mistake, there had ensued the character of eccentricity and defiance, which distinguished the more public portion of her life.

Related Characters: Miles Coverdale (speaker), Zenobia, Professor Westervelt
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long 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
Get the entire The Blithedale Romance LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Professor Westervelt Character Timeline in The Blithedale Romance

The timeline below shows where the character Professor Westervelt appears in The Blithedale Romance. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: The Wood-path
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...man for his name. The man gives him a card saying his name is Professor Westervelt. Coverdale says that he’s shown the man where to find Zenobia but he’ll have to... (full context)
Chapter 12: Coverdale’s Hermitage
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...and simply keep his individuality intact during his time at Blithedale. After speaking with Professor Westervelt, Coverdale climbs into his hermitage, which is near Zenobia’s usual walking path. From his perch,... (full context)
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Manipulation, Control, and Ambition Theme Icon
...himself, Coverdale admits that it would be better to abandon the experiment. Suddenly Coverdale hears Westervelt’s distinctive laugh in the forest below and he realizes that his thoughts about Zenobia, Hollingsworth,... (full context)
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Unlike Zenobia, Westervelt is cool and collected. He looks perplexed about Zenobia’s anger, but he is likely writing... (full context)
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Coverdale wonders if fate will lead Zenobia and Westervelt to stop under his tree so he can hear their conversation, but this doesn’t happen.... (full context)
Chapter 13: Zenobia’s Legend
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Manipulation, Control, and Ambition Theme Icon
...enjoy putting on theatrical performances from time to time. The night after the incident with Westervelt, Zenobia proposes that they put off acting for the evening so she can tell a... (full context)
Chapter 14: Eliot’s Pulpit
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...back down to rest while the others talk about the speech. Ever since talking with Westervelt, Zenobia’s moods have fluctuated more than usual from day to day. One day, after listening... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Boarding-house
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...(she wouldn’t want to get her dress muddy in the city streets). When Zenobia reappears, Westervelt is behind her. It seems to Coverdale that only Moodie and Hollingsworth are missing to... (full context)
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Coverdale watches Zenobia and Westervelt talk to each other. Zenobia’s gestures and other body language indicate that she’s passionate about... (full context)
Chapter 20: They Vanish
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...Zenobia. Coverdale mentally notes that Hollingsworth is responsible for whatever happens. Before Coverdale can leave, Westervelt comes in and the sight of him makes Coverdale’s skin crawl. Zenobia tells Priscilla it’s... (full context)
Chapter 23: A Village-hall
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Manipulation, Control, and Ambition Theme Icon
...for the show to start and a bearded man enters the stage. Coverdale recognizes Professor Westervelt; he shudders and asks Hollingsworth where Priscilla is but gets no answer. Westervelt beckons the... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Three Together
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...moments of a crisis and realizes they must have discussed Zenobia’s past, her connection with Westervelt, her and Hollingsworth’s intentions towards each other, and how much Zenobia knew about Priscilla’s victimization. (full context)
Chapter 28: Blithedale-pasture
Self-Interest and Utopian Societies Theme Icon
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
...first one to throw some dirt on the coffin. Coverdale walks over to him and Westervelt says Zenobia’s suicide was foolish. Coverdale argues that she had every reason to—she’d lost her... (full context)
Progressive vs. Traditional Gender Roles Theme Icon
Secrecy and Self-deception Theme Icon
Coverdale says nothing Westervelt just described would’ve satisfied Zenobia’s heart. Westervelt contemptuously says she would have learned to control... (full context)