Greece – Past and Present Revised

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 Evadne prophesies her own death in an apocalyptic vision, the terror and isolation is overwhelming, and there is no hope for a better future, only inevitable violence and destruction. Like many of the females in this novel, Evadne is a mirror for the Romantics’ obsession with death and the apocalypse.

Acting as mirrors and reflecting the feelings and thoughts that the Romantics had and felt imbues the female characters in this novel with strength and purpose. Evadne’s spoken prophecy of the apocalypse was what many Romantic artists tried to portray through their own mediums. By prophesying the apocalypse, Evadne becomes a poet.

Evadne is very different from the Abssydian 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 Absyddian maid was celebrating the great pleasure dome and brought pleasure and delight to those who listened.

While Evadne and the Abssydian maid were at first glance very different, both Evadne and the Abssydian maid were inspirational and muse-like sources of creativity, whether they created this inspiration through their prophesying or through their music.

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~ by dianawitless on November 15, 2012.

One Response to “Greece – Past and Present Revised”

  1. The idea that Evadne and the Abssydian maid are “muse-like sources of creativity” is very striking and worthy of analysis. Nonetheless, I wonder to what extent you can actually call Evadne a “poet.” Yes, her spoken prophecy of death and destruction is similar to that of the female mediums used by male Romantic poets; but this does not present enough evidence to argue that Evadne is therefore a poet. Perhaps you need to consider Evadne’s role as an artist more generally; remember that she is the one sketching the architectural plans for the new museum on behalf of Lord Raymond. And is it really the case that Coleridge’s Abssydian maid is a source of happiness? Her musical presence provokes a lot of fear and uncertainty in the poet, just as Evedne’s prophecy does for Lionel Verney!

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