The Demon and The Dulcimer (Revised)

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Raymond was looking to build something for the Republic specifically a “national gallery of statues and pictures” (pg 106). At once, I thought of Coleridge’s poem where, “In Xanadu Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure dome did decree” (lines 1-2). He wants to build England into a Xanadu or paradise. Similarly as the Abyssinian maid prompts the creator or Kubla Khan to exclaim, “with music loud and long/I will build that dome in air” (45-46), so Evadne gives a Raymond a drawing that him to a inspires and draws him to her.

From a close reading one can observe how Evadne shares similarities with the Abyssinian Maid. Evadne symbolizes the fallen yet proud Greece from which the apocalypse is released from the, “chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,/As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,/A mighty fountain momently was forced” (17-19). This is similar to her outburst, “this is the end of love!–Yet not the end!”–and frenzy lent her strength as she cast her arm up to heaven, there we meet again. Here we see her blast of apocalyptic vision coming from the abyss. However, it is interesting that this apocalypse leads to heaven. I believe heaven here is represented as the ideal society that Raymond was trying to create and the, “instruments of war, fire, the plague” (181). serve to bring it to fruition. Evadne and the Abyssinian Maid both seem to prophesize that only through the destruction can this ideal society or pleasure dome be constructed. We may see the complementary prophecy realized when Kubla Khan hears the Maid and realizes, “I would build that dome in air,/That sunny dome! those caves of ice!” (47-48). The dome is in air resembling the very heaven of which Evadne spoke.

All in all, I see Evadne as a mouthpiece for Mary Shelley’s apocalyptic vision of her own time. Lord Raymond represents the flawed Romantic ideals of the time that wish to create a paradise but fall so frustratingly short. Mary Shelley believes that these flawed ideals must be destroyed for the true paradise to come to pass. In, “The Last Man” she prophecies the death of Raymond who represents these ideals when she says, “fire, and war, and plague, unite for thy destruction — O my Raymond, there is no safety for thee!” (181)  It seems like since Evadne prophesized it she is saying only a woman can bring about this apocalypse, but I”m not entirely sure.

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~ by bobcat101 on November 15, 2012.

One Response to “The Demon and The Dulcimer (Revised)”

  1. The comparison between Shelley’s “The Last Man” and Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” is very revealing. Yes, Lord Raymond’s rebuilding of a pleasure dome–21st century republican England–is doomed to failure, but, then again, you could potentially argue the same about the Abyssinian maid’s vision, which prompts a lot of fear and uncertainty in the poet-speaker. Yes, maybe only a woman can create a perfect heaven on earth, and yet, ironically, the only surviving “woman” by the end of Shelley’s novel is the plague, personified as a “She.” Has the apocalypse really ushered in an ideal society? If so, then it is ironic that this perfected world of peace and love is also desolate and depopulated–a world not worth living in!

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