lecture 4

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Published on 5 Oct 2011
Shelley: Prometheus Unbound
Very romantic
Percy Shelley (1792-1822)
End of 18th cent - mid 19th cent Romantic Period
Professor considers him the most romantic writer
Husband of Mary Shelley
It's clear he's someone who was working through his thoughts about God and is seen in his
poem that we're studying
Expelled from Oxford for penning pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism
Does not seem like he carefully planned out the different parts of his poem
This is a classical myth that he has taken and retold, but a very different affect to the other
plays concerning Prometheus
Romanticism places "an emphasis on feeling, individuality and passion rather than classical form
and order, and typically prefer[s] grandeur, picturesqueness, or naturalness to finish and
proportion. Generally opposed to classical" (OED, "romantic," adj. 7)
Generally the 18th century, a period of a lot of scientific discovery and where people felt a
rational and empirical understanding of things in the world
Should consider each experience as an individual case
Took the trust in science and rationality to an extreme and the pendulum went to another
extreme, stressing individuality
Reaction against Enlightenment belief in scientific rationalism
Believed in brotherhood among humans and creating equality
Reiterated in Shelley's work
Heavily influenced by the French Revolution (1789)
Albert Elmer Hancock, The French Revolution and the English Poets
Utopian existence
A very romantic vision - very optimistic
"[Shelley's] radical spirit expressed itself in two ways: in an unrestrained denunciation of the past
with its tyrannical government of priests and kings, and in an unshakeable faith for a future with its
perfected humanity and exemption from government."
Prometheus Unbound
Published in 1820
Shelley expected it to sell no more than 20 copies
Lyric poetry and drama
Very personal
Usually poetry that usually focuses more on personal experience and emotion
Contains a narrator and many different view points
Drama is usually performed in public, and a lot less personal
Shelley chose it partially because he is influenced by Aeschylus play and he likes the
multivocal elements
Subtitled "A Lyrical Drama": fusion of two genres, the lyric and drama
Knew that his work wasn't mainstream
Summary: Act 1
Prometheus chained to Caucusus for "three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours" (1.12)
Jupiter is Zeus
Prometheus wishes to hear the curse he placed upon Jupiter long ago (1.53 ff)
No entity in this world dares speak the curse
Lecture 4 - 20/09
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
3:05 PM
C.de Souza ENGB30H3 Page 1
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