Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prospective: How a Man is Painted

            In The Blithedale Romance, Professor Westervelt is described with much dislike and distaste by the narrator, Miles Coverdale. Coverdale even goes as far as to believe Westervelt to be Satan himself through the exaggeration of some of his accessories and his mannerisms. Some examples being the pin Westervelt wears, which has flames on it, and the staff he carries, which has a serpent's head. The flames of course creating a correlation between the flames of damnation and the serpent being a representation of the temptation Adam and Eve fell pray to in the garden of Eden. It also connects to another of Nathaniel Hawthrone's works, Young Goodman Brown, which examines the evil, temptation, and sin that lives in each of us.
          The true question might be that is Westervelt really evil/Satan or is Coverdale's personal opinion affecting the way the audience perceives him. Westervelt has had a past relationship with Zenobia and is a shadow in Priscilla's life, which would put Coverdale in a less than friendly mood due to the fact that he has a a yearing for both women himself and anything that bothers them, bothers him. Also Westervelt has been with Zenobia, while Coverdale only obsessives over her from afar and he keeps bothering Priscilla, which upsets Coverdale because of his care and affection for her. In recognizing that, maybe Westervelt behaves in a manner that most of the men of the time do and since Coverdale dislikes him, the audience is manipulated to because of his use of symbols to make him evil. By using these symbols and having no point of view from Westervelt, the audience must rely on Coverdale and the facts that he gives throughout the end of the book, especially concerning Priscilla and Zenobia's fate.What is Westervelt truly like?


  1. It is a little odd how Coverdale has such a sever dislike for the man from the first words that come out of his mouth. When Westervelt greets Coverdale with a cheery "Hello, friend!", he automatically dislikes the man, and then launches into his tirade that compares his to Satan. Coverdale has shown himself to be a very untrustworthy narrator, so his representation of Westervelt is bound to be more than a little distorted. I think that is definitely a good question to ask, as I also wonder if Westervelt truly is as bad as Coverdale makes him out to seem.

  2. As Andrew says, that's a good question, Kristen, and you list some good reasons for Coverdale's hostility. We're left to decide whether Westervelt is really evil and Coverdale is trying to warn us about him or whether Coverdale's jealousy causes him to heighten the effect.