Evadne: A Creature Unlike Any Other (Revised)

Mary Shelley’s The Last Man is a literary maze. The characters are complex and ever-changing, the plot is twisted, and the overarching idea of the work is an apocalyptic vision of the future and its societal members. Evadne is a character that experiences an individual apocalypse and expresses a different energy that is not found in any other character in this major work. She is described as a “Grecian statue” and “her attitude might have been selected as a model of grace (page 111)”. And as she sits with her pencil that guides her most intrinsic thoughts and expressions, she is an image of astounding beauty and sadness. Upon Raymond’s discovery of her sitting there with her method of translation, the visual arts, he is immediately entranced. So, this apocalyptic character causes a mini apocalypse for Raymond. He observes her as she works, approaches her in the room, and then discovers secrets that remain buried in the stunning mind and invested hand of Evadne. She is but broken, like the rest, a “Princess in disguise (page 112)”. And unlike before, the “pleasure of relieving her pain” is a new found joy and, at the same time, a pain that yearns to be muted (page 112).

So, what and who is this character of Evadne? “She seemed to have more to say, to which she was unable to give words,” so it is either up to Raymond or the reader to figure out and trace this mysterious creature (page 112). Later in the book she exposes more of herself, her power, and her weakness. “I expire!…I dared, I conquered them all, till now! I have sold myself to death (page 181).” Evadne exposes her realness and also her ethereal dominance and strength. She controls plague, war, and weapons; she controls fate and, at the same time, is a fated being herself. I think it is a stretch to relate her to any other figure in literature, for after all, not Coleridge, Blake, or Keats ever exposed such a human and yet untouchable character. She possesses attributes that are found in other characters, of course, but when looking at Evadne, it is difficult to form a relationship between her and another literary, female character of the time. In Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Asia exists to inform and predict, to expose the truths and conditions of the time. This bride of Prometheus is enchanting; she “feels, [she] sees,” but she does not fully relate to the soul. When she speaks to Panthea, she even admits her lack of ability to understand and relate saying, “thou speakest, but thy words are as the air; I feel them not (Anthology pg. 1168).” Asia is a creature of power, just as Evadne is, but there is so much more to Evadne that makes any relationship to another figure in literature weak and less of a noticeable similarity.

Evadne, unlike any of the figures the class has looked at, is a woman of desire while being a humbled and poor servant. She is an artist while also a work of art. She is lost while also found at the root of her love for Raymond and her acceptance of life as it is. What is she? Who is she? She is, as Mary Shelley hid in her character, an image of apocalyptic change and a symbol of ability. Evadne is a desired, depressed, broken, beautiful, and ambitious creature. She is the “mighty torrent that overwhelmed his will (page 117)”. “Her mind is uncommon strength,” and she allows her most ethereal attributes to adapt human form. Evadne is some type of portal into everything at once, and at the same time, nothing at all. The princess and the pauper, the maiden and the lover, the utter joy and the complete depression. Evadne is unbound, a spirit of complex nature and a creature of unearthly and unknown delight and sorrow.

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~ by katiearata on November 8, 2012.

One Response to “Evadne: A Creature Unlike Any Other (Revised)”

  1. I enjoy posts that express original ideas outside of the framework. Here you address that Evadne may have little in common with any of the female figures of Shelley or Keats. This is fine however i also noticed that you didn’t use any examples from your close reading of these passages. It is fine to be acquainted with “The Last Man” but for a revision I would suggest using at least one quote found in your close reading to prove why they have little in common. Because, those that believe there is something in common have the advantage because they cited The Fall of Hyperion and Moneta. For example, “She is but broken, like the rest, a “Princess in disguise (page 112)”. sounds to me like a Elgian marble sort of like Moneta. In contesting my idea citing in text evidence would be extremely helpful for your argument.

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