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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hepzibah/Phoebe comparison

After describing the history of the Pyncheon family, Hawthorne introduces us to the matriarch of the family, Hepzibah, in chapter two. She is just waking up, preparing to face "a day of more than ordinary trial," in consequence of having to open a cent shop. Upon waking, she releases "heavy sighs" of "lugubrious depth," the only other sounds being the "agony of prayer," consisting of "now a groan, now a struggling silence," and the "creaking joints of her stiffened knees." Presently we hear her struggle with her "old-fashioned bureau" as well as the "rustling of stiff silks" as she heads toward the "dingy-framed toilet glass." She is "clad in black silk" with a "long and shruken waist." Everything in the room is offensive to the sight, such as the worn carpet and ugly chairs. Hepzibah is reluctantly to face the day ahead.

There is a stark contrast in the lever of Phoebe, who is a much younger and prettier cousin of a branch of the family that resides in the country. She has come to visit Hepzibah and, after spending her first night in the house, wake up at the beginning of chapter five. As she awakes, a "glow of crimson light" fills the room as the "dawn kissed her brow." Unlike all of the noise involved when Hepzibah awoke, Phoebe "quietly awoke" and looked outside to see a rosebush. Phoebe's room is just as dusky as Hepzibah, but because Phoebe is one of the "favored ones to bring out the hidden capabilities of things around them," she is able to add her own touch to the room. Whereas Hepzibah was reluctant to face the day, Phoebe hurries outside to gather roses to place in here room. By the addition of roses as well as the movement of furniture, Phoebe succeeds in adding an "inscrutable charm to the room, which Hawthorne recognizes as "now a maiden's chamber."

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