Greece – Past and Present

Evadne, in The Last Man, is Shelley’s representation of a fallen Greece. While many Romantic writers and poets wrote about the fall of Greece and the Grecian ideals, Evadne shows the ramifications in that she is desperate and poor. This is most commonly seen in the theme of loneliness or isolation that Evadne exhibits. When Lord Raymond finds Evadne, he finds her in poverty, filth, sitting by herself, left behind by her dead husband and abandoned by her country. It was this deep feeling of isolation that drew Lord Raymond’s attention; he was curious about the girl sitting by herself and approached her, at first simply to discover her identity. Evadne falls in love with the man who “recognized” her and pulled her out of poverty, and she began to have an affair with him.

Viewing Greece as a sad, despondent female, relying on those like Lord Raymond to recognize and love her again, is very different from the Abssynian maid in Kubla Khan. While this maid was nameless, without a large storyline, and seemingly purposeless, the maid was a source of happiness. She played on her dulcimer; she was not despondent or isolated. The Abssynian maid was celebrating the great pleasure dome and brought pleasure and delight to those who listened. She was inspirational and a muse-like source of creativity.

As opposed to seeing the decrepit history of ruin within Evadne, the Abssynian maid is a much more joyful and restorative image. The Abssynian maid represents the artistic creativity and curiosity initially found in ancient Greece, and Evadne is a sobering reminder of how much Greece has fallen from her originally high mythological standings.

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~ by dianawitless on November 8, 2012.

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