Percy Bysshe Shelley Drama Analysis
For all practical purposes, the narrative of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s importance to theatrical history is the tale of The Cenci. However, Prometheus Unbound was the first of his substantial literary undertakings to be cast in dramatic form and is thematically related to The Cenci.
Prometheus Unbound considers on the ideal level what The Cenci examines on the level of gritty reality, the relationship between good and evil, between benevolent innocence and that which would corrupt it. Shelley’s Prometheus is the traditional fire-giver redefined, as his preface tells us. The primary change that Shelley makes in his subject is a reworking of the events leading to Prometheus’s release. In the lost Aeschylean play from which Shelley borrowed his title, there occurred a “reconciliation of Jupiter with his victim” at “the price of the disclosure of the danger threatened to his empire by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis.” In Shelley’s version, Prometheus earns his freedom more nobly, by overcoming himself, by forswearing hatred and the desire for revenge, embracing love, and achieving, through extraordinary fortitude, a merciful selflessness.
In a sense, Prometheus combines a Christ-like forbearance with the traits the Romantics often admired in Satan. Shelley says Prometheus is like Satan in that “In addition to courage, and majesty, and firm...
(The entire section is 1945 words.)
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