Places: Evangeline

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1847

Type of work: Poetry

Type of plot: Pastoral

Time of work: Mid-eighteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Acadia

*Acadia. EvangelineFrench colony in eastern Canada that overlapped the regions that became Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and other areas. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem opens during the time of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), when many French-speaking Acadians fled or were driven out of the region by the British.

*Grand Pré

*Grand Pré. Largest Acadian village in Minas Basin, an inlet on the western shore of Nova Scotia, was the real home of the greatest number of French immigrants to Canada. The poem begins with a description of the lush, fertile valley surrounding Grand Pré, which it depicts as the home of peaceful shepherds and gentle farmers who live in thatched-roofed houses.

*Mississippi River

*Mississippi River. When Longfellow wrote his poem, this great river was the major highway of the United States, transporting goods and people from north to south. As Longfellow’s characters row down the Mississippi, a panorama of America unfolds. Many Acadian families actually traveled down the river searching for places to live. Many settled in southern Louisiana, where their descendants became known as Cajuns.

BibliographyArvin, Newton. Longfellow: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown, 1963. A benchmark study of Longfellow as a man and writer. Devotes a full chapter to an articulate and insightful exploration of Evangeline, including narrative structure, characters, settings, symbols, themes, and verse form. Places the poem squarely in the idyllic tradition.Chevalier, Jacques M. Semiotics, Romanticism and the Scriptures. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1990. The only book-length examination of the poem. Offers a sophisticated and very detailed line-by-line analysis of the prologue and first canto of book 1. Concentrates on scriptural and romantic elements in light of the poem’s role as a variation on the myth of the lost paradise.Hirsh, Edward L. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1964. Analyzes Evangeline in the context of Longfellow’s other long narrative poems, especially Hiawatha and The Courtship of Miles Standish. Emphasis on Longfellow’s tendency to mythologize his subjects and his preference for pastoral coloring.Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1986. Offers focused analyses of Longfellow’s major works, including a full chapter on Evangeline. Especially valuable in its treatment of Longfellow’s original authorial intentions and his alterations to and expansion of the text. Good notes and suggestions for further reading.Williams, Cecil B. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: Twayne, 1964. Contains one chapter on Longfellow’s verse narratives, including Evangeline. An adequate introductory treatment of the author’s sources and influences, and the poem’s meter, plot, and critical reception. Argues that Evangeline provides a sentimental journey that even a cynical modern reader may find attractive.
Categories: Places