Longfellow’s “Evangeline”

I don’t know if all the symbolism was apparent to my students (or me) but Longfellow said the Almighty grants to each of us better than our hearts’ desire at the end.  In the climax on the Philadelphia hospital bed, where Evangeline and the dying from the pandemic Gabriel embrace, he is holding the priceless young virgin for whom he searched as his “intended” all his life.

She, in turn, has her hand on the cheek of her hero of masculinity, Jesus Christ, her bridegroom (She is now a Sister of Charity) as individualized in Gabriel, and they are both shedding tears of happiness as the long search is over.

You couldn’t have a better Hollywood ending, and Longfellow wrote about these “Cajuns” back when people knew they came from Acadia (Nova Scotia).

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