28 pages 56 minutes read

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1813

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Book VIIIChapter Summaries & Analyses

Book VIII Summary

Queen Mab shows Ianthe’s spirit a vision of the future: a beautiful utopia of love, hope, and harmony. When Ianthe’s spirit sees it, she feels “such joy as when a lover sees / The chosen of his soul in happiness” (Lines 8.32-33). The frozen parts of the planet have become warm, the deserts are now forests filled with creatures, and the wilderness has become as safe and gentle as a “daisy-spangled lawn” (Line 8.82). The world has become Edenic: The fruits are always ripe, the trees are always green, and everything is blissful.

Although humans experience greater pain than other life forms, they also have a greater capacity for happiness. The humans of the past were like beasts, cruel in their temperament and hunters by instinct—a condition that arose because people went against the laws of nature by harming the earth, conquering and enslaving each other, and seeking to satisfy their ambitions for wealth and power at any cost. In the future paradise Queen Mab predicts, people are virtuous—“All kindly passions and all pure desires” (Line 8.203). Now that Nature’s regenerative powers have cleansed the human spirit of its corrupt features, only virtuous impulses are left, which leads to peace and universal concord.