Sunday, April 17, 2016

Misunderstood Hepzibah

Joining up here today.  This month we are to share a description of a lady in literature that we find especially well written.  

Here is one of the greatest descriptions of a woman I have ever read.  It wrenches my heart every time.  Hepzibah is someone I just wanted to enfold and hug very tightly.  


Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of Seven Gables

Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon came to a pause.....with a singular scowl, a strange contortion of the brow, which, by people who did not know her, would probably have been interpreted as an expression of bitter anger and ill-will.  But it was no such thing....this forbidding scowl was the innocent result of her near-sightedness, and an effort so to concentrate her powers of vision as to substitute a firm outline of the object instead of a vague one.  
We must linger a moment on this unfortunate expression of poor Hepzibah's brow.  Her scowl, -as the world, or such part of it as sometimes caught a transitory glimpse of her at the window, wickedly persisted in calling it, -her scowl had done Miss Hepzibah a very ill office in establishing her character as an ill-tempered old maid; nor does it appear improbable that, by often gazing at herself in a dim looking-glass, and perpetually encountering her own frown within its ghostly sphere, she had been led to interpret the expression almost as unjustly as the world did. "How miserably cross I look!" she must often have whispered to herself; and ultimately have fancied herself so, by a sense of inevitable doom. But her heart never frowned.  It was naturally tender, sensitive, and full of little tremors and palpitations; all of which weaknesses it retained, while her visage was growing so perversely stern, and even fierce. 

Hawthorne is sometimes hard to read.  But his books are replete with observations such as this, and always makes one pause in his/her inevitable weakness for "judging a book by its cover".   


  1. Lovely writing. He's not an author I've ever had a tendency to read but if this quote is representative of how he writes I will give him a go.

  2. Awesome selection! I haven't read THoSG yet, but this looks amazing. I loved what you said about Hawthorne in the last paragraph; very thought-provoking.