Shelley - Prometheus Unbound - Lec 4.docx

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Laura Jane Wey

Shelley: Prometheus Unbound th Wednesday September 19 , 2012 Romanticism  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)  Reaction against Enlightenment(18 century) belief in scientific rationalism  Heavily influenced by the French Revolution Prometheus Unbound  Published in 1820  Shelley expected it to sell no more than 20 copies  Subtitled “A Lyrical Drama”: fusion of two genres; lyric poetry (deals with emotions and much more personal; personal feelings/expressions) and drama(performing arts) Summary: Act I  Prometheus chained to Caucusus for “three thousand years of sleep unsheltered hours” (1.12) o (disowns Zeus as his owner) o (Prometheus says he chose his own path; will not stoop to Zeus low level)  Prometheus wishes to hear the curse he placed upon Jupiter long ago (1.53ff) o (Prometheus then changes his mind, Prometheus feels sorry for Zeus not because of hate; hate no more; wishes to call off curse; however he does not remember exactly what the curse was)  No entity in this world dares speak the curse (1.130;1.140;1.180) o (Can’t find the curse but no one wants to repeat it; lots of ppl heard it … but does not dare recall in fear of upsetting Zeus)  Prometheus conjures the Phantasm of Jupiter; phantasm repeats the curse (1.272ff) o (phantasm of Jupiter is the “soul” of Jupiter) o (Curse: Jupiter cannot govern himself… good thing become bad …. Turn omnipotent into a crown of pain)  Prometheus regrets curse (1.302ff) o (Prometheus shocks himself with such harsh words; feels regret … wishes no living thing to suffer pain)  Mercury arrives with the Furies and asks Prometheus to reveal the secret of who shall supplant Jupiter o (mercury pities and feels sorry for Prometheus)  Prometheus refuses, and the Furies begin to torture him by taunting him with the “evil” that results from “clear knowledge that thou waken’dst for man” (1.539-577; 1.625-631) o (Torture him by telling him about all the horrible things that happen on earth due to the “good” deeds Prometheus tried to do to help ppl on earth ex. French Revolution) o (good want power = they lack power; those who have power lack good; the wise lack love, want love, but not wise = all good things have been mixed so that nothing is as it seems)  Prometheus remains steadfastly defiant: “The sights with which thou torturest gird my soul/ with new endurance, till the hour arrives. / When they shall be no types of things which are” (1.632-645)  Earth conjures chorus of spirits, who “behold/ Beyond that twilight realm… the future.” (1.661- 663) – in which the “soul of love” governs the world, no longer followed by “hollow Ruin” (1.780ff) o (love is always accompanied by ruin and death; but with Prometheus… love will overcome rune will overcome ruin and death) Summary: Act III Scene 1  Jupiter brags of his own might (3.1.1-24)
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