Longfellow Studies: The Acadian Diaspora - Reading "Evangeline" as a Feminist and Metaphoric Text

Rhea Cote Robbins, University of Maine, Penobscot County

2005

6-8, 9-12

  • English Language Arts -- Reading
  • Social Studies -- History

10-15 days

  • 1775-1850

Evangeline, Longfellow's heroine, has long been read as a search for Evangeline's long-lost love, Gabrielle--separated by the British in 1755 at the time of the Grand Derangement, the Acadian Diaspora. The couple comes to find each other late in life and the story ends. Or does it?

Why does Longfellow choose to tell the story of this cultural group with a woman as the protagonist who is a member of a minority culture the Acadians? Does this say something about Longfellow's ability for understanding the misfortunes of others?

Who is Evangeline searching for? Is it Gabriel, or her long-lost land of Acadia? Does the couple represent that which is lost to them, the land of their birth and rebirth? These are some of the thoughts and ideas which permeate Longfellow's text, Evangeline, beyond the tale of two lovers lost to one another. As the documentary, Evangeline's Quest (see below) states: "The Acadians, the only people to celebrate their defeat." They, as a cultural group, are found in the poem and their story is told.

  • Reading "Evangeline" as a feminist and metaphoric text.

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