George Gordon, Lord Byron Drama Analysis
Although a number of George Gordon, Lord Byron’s, plays are more easily approached as dramatic poetry than as theatrical drama, the political tragedies are readily accessible to dramatic analysis. His political tragedies are literary explorations of the relationship, in an unregenerate world, of the extraordinary individual to the state. They examine the place of the almost superhumanly proud and passionate man within corporate humanity. They express the fascination with the link between earthly power and individual freedom and fulfillment that manifested itself in Byron’s first speech before Parliament and that would lead him, finally, to his death at Missolonghi. The following discussion centers on three such works, the classically constructed Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice and Sardanapalus, and the gothic, melodramatic Werner.
Of Byron’s dramatic works, Werner most closely resembles the popular theater of his day. Despite being the last play that Byron completed, Werner is the earliest of the plays in terms of initial composition, having been begun during the year preceding Byron’s final exile from England. Byron’s fascination with the story on which the play is based dates from an even earlier period. As he explains in the play’s preface, he had read “The German’s Tale” from the Lees’ The Canterbury Tales at about age fourteen, and it had “made a deep...
(The entire section is 1923 words.)
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