The epic poem is a story of one (fictional) woman’s experience with the Acadian Expulsion by the British in the 1700’s and her journey finding her fiancé afterwards. Being from southern Louisiana, I’ve been curious about the poem for a long time, especially with references to it in Disney’s “The Princess & the Frog”. The history embedded in it excited me, as I am a history buff and more so for Louisiana history. The journey kept me at the edge of my seat, waiting to discover the outcome. When and how does she find Gabriel?! Then, how it all ended angered me. I cannot recall the last time I felt such emotion with such a short piece of work.
The tale was first published in 1847, less than a century after the Expulsion began. A reverend related the story to our poet, as told to him by a French-Canadian woman. The ending, however, appears to have been up to Longfellow’s own imagination. I believe Longfellow may have written it with the couple not being reunited until at Gabriel’s deathbed to fan the flames of remembrance about the ordeal the Acadians suffered. What good that would do or did do, I cannot say, other than rewaken the history to his audience. The continual tragedy in his version also works to romanticize and dramatize the history. The original Acadian people deserved better than they got and better than Longfellow wrote for Evangeline’s life. I’m blown away by the tale as a whole and the way it ends. I would love to hear others’ thoughts and analyses on it, as I never had the opportunity to study much of Longfellow’s poetry (and specifically not this one) during high school or college. (No, I am not technically Cajun by blood that I am aware of, but most of my life so far has been in Louisiana.)
Source: reddit post