An Ideal Thwarted

Evadne Zaimi seems to resemble Moneta of Keats’ Fall of Hyperion and the Abyssinian woman of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, however, it is difficult to connect Evadne to previous females that we have read because she represents an amalgamation of ideals connected to the Greek Past. She is a character rich with symbolism towards the Greek past and other women that we have studied throughout the semester, yet she appears to be the only symbolic woman (of the many) that has a tragic ending.

Evadne is portrayed as an utterly pathetic creature in Shelley’s The Last Man being located in a “dwelling of want” (109) discovered by Raymond (who wishes to return her to her greatness), a contrast to the lavish National Gallery that she has designed. She is teeming with idealized imagery as she is described with “dark hair…braided…in thick knots like the headdress of a Grecian statue” (109) and having a disposition comparable to a “model of grace” (109)–symbols suited to Greek ruins rediscovered. Her description of misery and likeness to that of a Grecian statue recalls Moneta from Keats’ Fall of Hyperion. Moneta is described as a figure of sadness standing about the Greek ruins of Saturn’s temple–“Sole priestess of desolation”–as the poet wanders upon her (a striking similarity). Yet, Moneta at least has a beacon of hope in the form of Hyperion rising in the end of the work–a possibility–but the fragmented nature of the work does not resolve the fate of the goddess of memory.

The Abyssinian woman of another fragment, Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, shares the poetic and creative ideals of Evadne the artist. Evadne continually churns out works of complete beauty yet “faulty” (107) in design, a contrast to the Abyssinian woman’s “symphony and song” that would grant the listener the ability to create the perfect “dome of pleasure” in Kubla Khan. Evadne, the daughter of Greece, rich with ideal description was perfect but is now tarnished by shattered dreams–“behold the proud Evadne in her tatters!…the beggar-princess” (112). Her tragic ending in her failed live and loss of will to continue living separates her from the women we have studied, she approaches perfection but her dreams are never truly realized as evidenced by her tragic state.

Evadne’s history and character tie in with the woeful tone of Shelley’s work; that ideals cannot reside in reality. She represents, instead, Shelley’s disenchantment with the Romantic ideal: the revolutionary zeal of change and progress that was present in the contemporaries of her youth is nonexistent here. Essentially, Evadne is symbolic of lost causes, an ideal with high expectations (a Greek princess of a cultured state) but unfortunately fails to realize her dreams and is instead a victim of Love, poverty, and the apparently obsolete ideals of reclaiming a Hellenistic past.


~ by frightenedinmate2 on November 8, 2012.

One Response to “An Ideal Thwarted”

  1. This is one of my favorite posts of the week. You successfully unite, your close reading observation, your original idea, and your comparison not only of the similarities between Evadne and the Abyssinian Maid, but also their differences. However, what I enjoyed the most was that you took it one step further. You talked about how those ideas in the context of who Mary Shelley was stating, “he represents, instead, Shelley’s disenchantment with the Romantic ideal: the revolutionary zeal of change and progress that was present in the contemporaries of her youth is nonexistent here.” And you managed it all it not alot of space which was a relief. The only revision I can suggest is some sort of outside media perhaps a picture that you feel captures your idea or further demonstrates the scope of your ideas. Good work.

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