Rasselas, prince of Abyssinia (or Ethiopia), grows dissatisfied with the unceasing pleasures of his utopian home in the Happy Valley. According to Ethiopian tradition, the children of royalty were confined to an edenic valley, secluded from the harsh realities of the outside world. Rather than being seen as a paradise by Rasselas, Happy Valley is instead considered to be a prison, harboring boredom and tediousness. So, accompanied by his teacher, his sister, and her lady-in-waiting, Rasselas escapes his idyllic homeland to experience the outside world and search out the way of life most likely to lead to lasting happiness.
y to privacy, because he had now a subject of thought. His chief amusement was to picture to himself that world which he had never seen, to place himself in various conditions, to be entangled in imaginary difficulties, and to be engaged in wild adventures; but, his benevolence always terminated his projects in the relief of distress, the detection of fraud, the defeat of oppression, and the diffusion of happiness.
Thus passed twenty months of the life of Rasselas. He busied himself so intensely in visionary bustle that he forgot his real solitude; and amidst hourly preparations for the various incidents of human affairs, neglected to consider by what means he should mingle with mankind.
One day, as he was sitting on a bank, he feigned to himself an orphan virgin robbed of her little portion by a treacherous lover, and crying after him for restitution. So strongly was the image impressed upon his mind that he started up in the maid's defence, and ran forward to seize the plunderer with all the e