The “E” Effect

Evadne in The Last Man most resembles the role of Enitharmon in William Blake’s Europe: A Prophecy. Enitharmon “slept/ Eighteen hundred years: Man was a dream!” (Plate 9, Lines 1-2). Enitharmon was distanced from her world by sleep, unaware of the actions of her fellow beings, stuck in a dream world, blinded from the actual state of man. While Enitharmon existed in a state of peaceful sleep, man was waging a war around her. Much like Enitharmon, Evadne too was separated from the world, at least the world of the main characters of The Last Man, by physical distance when she returned to Greece. In her absence, the lives of Lionel, Perdita, Raymond, Adrian, and Idris continued on in bliss, while Evadne herself was experiencing quite the opposite. The stark contrast between the existences of the two female characters and the reality of those around them is unknown by the women, but alluded to by shadows.

Enitharmon dreams of “Shadows of men in fleeting bands upon the wind” (Plate 9, line 6), passing hints in her dream of what she is to find when she awakes. Evadne too is haunted by shadows, memories of her beloved Raymond.  These silhouettes of the past highlight the state of each woman in the present, and foreshadow their futures. Once Enitharmon awakens and the sun begins to rise, all of her children leave her, “… everyone fled to his station, & Enitharmon wept” (Plate 14, Lines 36). Enitharmon is reduced to tears when the objects of her affection leave her, much as Evadne became ill and nearly died after Raymond found her and then lapsed into absence again. Once Raymond returns to aid Evadne, however, much like the waking of Enitharmon, the world immediately effected by her is thrown into turmoil. The initiation of this turmoil seems to be the purpose of Evadne in The Last Man, as she destroys the perfection and happiness of the world in which the main characters live, just as Enitharmon’s awakening caused such change in Europe: A Prophecy.

 

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~ by mjaka10 on November 8, 2012.

2 Responses to “The “E” Effect”

  1. I honestly didn’t see the connection between Evadne and Enitharmon before I read this piece and I think that this is a testament to the strength of your close reading. I believe that this poem has a very good blend of creativity and effective close reading. The strongest example of this is in the first paragraph where you say ” Evadne too was separated from the world, at least the world of the main characters of The Last Man, by physical distance when she returned to Greece. In her absence, the lives of Lionel, Perdita, Raymond, Adrian, and Idris continued on” The connection here is explicit and clear to the reader. However, at least for me the second paragraph wasn’t as clear in that the connections seemed more a stretch. When you compare Lord Raymond to Enitharmon’s children I was a little confused and it could be just because I am not reading into it correctly but I think for your revision it would serve you well to clear up any confusion. Otherwise, good blog post.

  2. To clarify the second paragraph of my post, I connect Enitharmon’s children and Lord Raymond in that they are the objects of affection and motivation for the actions of their respective female characters. Whilst they are separated from their loves, there is little to disturb the lives of Enitharmon’s children and Lord Raymond. Once the women return to the lives of the people they love, however, they bring death to the peace enjoyed in their absence.
    The return of Enitharmon and Evadne not only pains their loves, but also causes them pain. “Enitharmon groans & cries in anguish and dismay” (Plate 15, Line 8), knowing her children are doomed to obey the cry of Los, just as Evadne cries out that there is “no safety” for Raymond. The objects of affection of both women will again be separated from them. Enitharmon is separated from her children by their duty to obey the male figures in Europe: A Prophecy, and Evadne is separated from Raymond when she perishes, at least until he joins her in death. Evadne foreshadows the demise of the rest of the world, threatening “the instruments of war, fire, and the plague” – the exact order and occurrence of events that lead to Lord Raymond’s death, and in Evadne’s mind, their reunification.

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