In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline, what advice did people give Evangeline about what she should do, and how did she react?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline is about a young bride-to-be being separated from her betrothed, Gabriel Lajeunesse, when her people were exiled by the British from Acadia in Nova Scotia. However, the title character Evangeline never gives up hope of being reunited with Gabriel and goes on a quest across all the American colonies in search of him.

Along the way, many people give her various pieces of advice. One example can be seen in the first section of part II when, after hearing rumors that Gabriel had been seen on the prairies working with the "hunters and trappers," or that he had been an explorer in the "lowlands of Louisiana," some well-meaning townsperson asks Evangeline, "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer?" and advises her to marry someone else, such as Baptiste Leblanc, who has been in love with her for years, since she is far "too fair" to devote her life to virginity (704, 707, 708–13).

Evangeline's reply to this well-intentioned advice is, "I cannot!" (714) She further makes the argument that her love for Gabriel acts "like a lamp" guiding her journey and adding clarity to her mission, which would otherwise be overwhelmingly confused and desperate (715–17).

Father Felician feels inspired by Evangeline's uplifting reply, feeling that "God thus speaketh within [her]." He feels compelled to offer her the next piece of advice (719). His advice is very contrary to the well-intentioned townsperson's above; he tells her that her affection for Gabriel can never go to waste and encourages her to continue trying to find him. He even offers himself as a mentor and guide to accompany her on her journey.

Evangeline's response to Father Felician's advice is to feel cheered up; however, she cannot keep herself from thinking Gabriel is already dead and must be reminded to "despair not!" and to press on (730).

As Evangeline continues on her journey and encounters more and more people, those people also offer their own advice like the advice above.

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