Woeful Women: Moneta and Evadne as Shades of the Past

I would most readily relate Evadne – a woman we have witnessed falling from society’s highest social graces, as a wealthy Greek Princess, into a lowly place of impoverished obscurity – with Keats’ representation of the goddess Moneta in The Fall of Hyperion.  In Roman mythology, Moneta is revered as the goddess of memory, and in Keats’ poetry, she is summoned as the priestess of the past, the protector of the ruined temple: “and by her voice I knew she shed/Long treasured tears. ‘This temple, sad and lone,/’Is all spar’d from the thunder of a war/’Foughten long since by giant hierarchy/’Against rebellion: this old image here,/’Whose carved features wrinkled as he fell,/’Is Saturn’s; I Moneta, left supreme/’Sole priestess of this desolation.” She represents the mournful shadow of the past, as she dwells among the rubble of the grand temple.  Prior to entering this scene of pain and desolation, Keats finds himself in Edenic pleasure, which makes his transition into a mere memory of those glorious days even more disturbing and sentimental.

These notions of nostalgia are well established in the character of Evadne, yet unlike Moneta (who embraces her role as the goddess of maintaining the memory of what used to be), Evadne ardently fights against her desire to return to her comfortable status out of the more pressing need to maintain her pride.  As she explains to Lord Raymond, “This may seem madness to you, yet you also have pride and resolution; do not then wonder that my pride is tameless, my resolution unalterable” (Shelley 111).  Unlike Montea – who possesses both an understanding of the unfortunate present state of affairs, and therefore, a true appreciation for past glory – Evadne wholly accepts her fate as a princess turned beggar, yet lacks an appreciation for her past wealth, made evident by her refusal to swallow her pride and seek refuge in the company of the royals.

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~ by Romantic Fanatic on November 8, 2012.

One Response to “Woeful Women: Moneta and Evadne as Shades of the Past”

  1. I think here you have a good example of how to suitably compare the two female figures of Evadne and Moneta. Here is an example of effect close reading where you find what is my opinion a very relative passage and you expound on it. However, you don’t simply say what the similarity is between the two is whether it be the, “long treasured tears” or the “sole priestess of desolation” you also account for the differences and the discrepancies that as I mention in some of the other posts really gets into Evadne’s characterization within the context of the novel. This is where you take the close reading a step farther like Prof. Humberto said and make note of what isn’t there as well as what is. I believe you do this effectively when you state that, her pride wouldn’t allow her to, “seek refuge in the company of the royals.” If I may be so bold I think that there may be a bit of social commentary in Evadne’s tail and I think that a good revision would involve maybe talking about the implications of Evadne’s actions.

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