Historical Context of “The Hollow of the Three Hills” Analysis

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The story was written in 1830, during that time witchcraft was still being persecuted in the North America, leading the story to be more believable to the reader of this time period. Dishonor, death and deceit. The beautiful young Woman who flees her home in a cowardly attempt to escape her daughter’s looming and inevitable death causes dishonor within her family.

In one flashback we view the young Woman’s parents who are speaking of “daughter, a wanderer they knew not where, bearing dishonor along with her, and leaving shame and affliction to bring their gray heads to the grave.” Theme’s Part 1 Deceit is also another theme throughout the story.

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The young Woman deceives her family by running away and leaving behind her duties of a daughter, wife and mother. But more specifically she deceives her husband, she hears her husband speak “of a woman’s perfidy, of a wife who had broken her holiest vow, of a home and heart desolate.” The young Woman leaves her husband behind, a man whom she pledged to love and stay with “till death do us part.” She leaves him behind to care for their dying daughter alone, left him to mend a broken heart while preparing for it to be broken inevitably in the near future yet again.

The final theme seen in the story is Death. Death happens twice literally in the novel, first by the death of the young Woman’s daughter. A death that is as ambiguous as the rest of the story. It is arguable that death is the ultimate theme for the short story; sprouting the rest of the storyline. Without the death of the daughter the rest of the story simply would not exist. At the end of the story the young Woman dies as well.

Ultimately sacrificing her life due to her guilt ridden conscious of leaving behind her loved ones. Worst of all, she gives up her life to witness the suffering she had caused to her family by leaving them. Death is also used figuratively in the story between the relationships of the various family members. When the young Woman decides to run away from home she brings on the death of her relationships with her parents and husbands.

Her actions become irreversible and unforgivable. This is clearly the main character of the short story, it is uncertain what her name was but she is described as being “graceful in form and fair of feature, though pale and troubled, and smitten with an untimely blight in what should have been the fullest bloom of her years.” She is weak woman who chose to run away from her daughters looming, untimely death and left her family with the duties that ought to be a mother’s, especially at the time this story was written. She is filled with so much guilt and remorse for leaving behind the ones she loved the most that she arranges a meeting with an ancient witch who can present her with insight into how her family is holding up, for a price: her life.

The young Lady realizes that she has left behind the only people she cares about in the world and that her life is useless now that she can’t return home. In the end we find out that she cares so deeply about her family that she gives up her life for a mere hour to see how her family is.

Character Analysis Young Woman The Old Woman is the antagonist of the story. Although she helps out the young Women by letting her check up on her family, she ultimately ends up getting immense pleasure out of seeing the young Woman dead at the end of the story, by saying “Here has been a sweet hour’s sport!” after the events of the night had commenced. She is said to be in direct opposite of the young Woman “an ancient, meanly dressed woman, of ill-favored aspect, and so withered, shrunken and decrepit, that even the space since she began to decay must have exceeded the ordinary term of human existence.”

The old woman is suspected to be a witch, rich with powers that are not capable of an ordinary human being. She is not also thought of to be pure of heart; killing others to allow them to see one hour of their near and dear ones. The story says of the old woman, “that evil woman began to weave her spell.” That is blatant evidence directly from the text stating that this old hag was up to no good. Old Woman The young lady’s parents are ashamed of what their daughter had done, leaving behind their son-in-law and grandchild. Not only did they have to deal with the great sadness of losing their grandchild but also the embarrassment and great sadness of losing their daughter as well. The story claims their words to being filled with “sorrow,” The father is shown to be “calmly despondent” as the Mother is “querulous and tearful”.

Young Woman’s Parents The husband is battling the emotions of anger and sadness. He is greatly angered at the young Woman for leaving him to care for his dying daughter by his lonesome yet he is also sad for the loss of his daughter and wife. Husband of the Young Woman Point of View. The story is told in the third person point of view. Setting The setting of this story is in a basin beneath the three hills, where “no mortal could observe them.” Them being the main characters. A lake lies between the hills, with old and rotting trees on the ground and in the water.

Dwarf pines are plentiful on the hill sides. Symbolism The Old Woman’s Cloak: This symbolizes darkness, which was necessary for the old woman in order for the spells to work. Another symbol is a coffin, which symbolizes death. Not only did the young woman’s daughter die, she did as well. postcolonialism In the 1830s, many things were going on. Such as the French Revolution of 1830 began, and the Texas Revolution began in Texas as well. The building of railroads begins to take off in the United States. A group of galaxies called “Robert’s Quartet” is discovered.

The Morman religion is founded by Joseph Smith. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren are elected as prisedents of the U.S. What are the themes of the story? What point of view was this story told in? Young Woman… Old woman… Young Woman’s Parents… Husband of the young woman Setting? Describe it. Can you think of any symbols that were significant in the story? What is the authors purpose? The Hollow of the Three Hills is a story of dishonor, deceit, and death.

The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the main character as a beautiful woman with a shameful and abominable past. She tries to run from her problems but comes to find out no matter how big or small a problem, trying to run from it will only make the problem follow. The main character was so driven by curiosity and remorse that she brought herself to go see a witch.

They met in a place described by Hawthorne as a hollow basin, almost mathematically circular, two or three hundred feet in breadth,…the resort of the Power of Evil and his plighted subjects. This describes the character as someone who is a plighted subject who had such a secret that she had to be where “no mortal could observe them. She wanted this witch to help her see and hear what was happening with her loved ones; but she only had one hour to do so and after this one hour she would die Hawthorne did not come out and said this but in saying things like “there is but a short hour that we may tarry here. and I will do your bidding though I did .She had run from everything that was important to her because the most important, was dying.

Hawthorne was not too clear in stating what exactly the problem was but it seemed that her daughter had fallen ill. Throughout the story Hawthorne masks this fact well and uses foreshadowing nicely. In one part where the main character is looking in on her parents by means of the witches powers and Hawthorne describes her parents as speaking …of a daughter, a wanderer they knew not where, bearing dishonor along with her, and leaving shame and affliction to bring their gray heads to the grave. They alluded also to other and more recent woe, The daughter wandering bearing shame is the main character, who tried to run from her problem which was what they spoke of next.

The more recent woe they were alluding to was their granddaughter’s death. Next the main character looked in upon her husband which she had left to bear the brunt of their daughter’s mourning. The main character had left her husband all alone in the world except for their dying daughter and was now feeling such remorse that she had to see a witch just to know how he was. He was not well at all, for she had broken his heart and “he spoke of a woman’s perfidy, of a wife who had broken her holiest vows”(Hawthorne 104).

Not only she had left him with pain and suffering for their child but she had also left him with pain and aversion towards her. She tried to run away from her daughter’s sickness and encroaching death, but by doing so only brought guilt and remorse upon herself. She must have known that her husband would have strong feelings of antipathy towards her and still willingly looked in on his life to see how he was. The part in the story when she looked back towards her husband was the part of the story that stuck out the most as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style of writing. This was a good example of his ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’.

She felt such remorse for leaving that the only good thing to do was to check up on him and see if he was all right. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’ in most of his short stories and novels and this is one example of him using it. The last thing the woman does out of guilt is checks up on her daughter. The witch uses her powers to allow the main character to look back at her daughter; but when she looks back for her daughter she doesn’t see her all she sees is a funeral procession.

The daughter died of her illness as Hawthorne foreshadowed throughout the short story by writing such things as “into the tone of a death bell and “like lamplight on the wall of a sepulchre.The main character left her daughter to die and that is just what happened. Looking back in retrospect the main character probably would have stayed with her daughter. She cared enough to give her life for just one hour of looking in on the ones she loved and more than likely would have liked to be their with them in this time of mourning. Not only could she have been there to help them but more importantly they could have been there to help her.

As a mother watching her daughter’s funeral brigade must have broken her heart but watching it through a witches spell must have shattered it. Hawthorne’s main character chose to run like a coward and in the end paid the worst consequence of all. She gave up her life to witness the pain and suffering she had cause to others.

With her daughter dead by disease, her husband infuriated with hatred and pain, and her parents filled with disgust and humiliation she had no one that cared about her at all because she couldn’t handle the emotional stress. How much emotional stress does it seem she caused to others in the end though? She tried to escape her duties as a wife and mother but they just followed her to the very end.

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Historical Context of “The Hollow of the Three Hills” Analysis. (2016, Jun 09). Retrieved from


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