Places Discussed

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Lands outside paradise

Lands outside paradise. Complaining that his father has been tamed and his mother has forsaken the desire for knowledge that led to her exile from Eden, Cain agrees to go with Lucifer on a tour of the places that will give him the knowledge denied him by God. Lucifer convinces Cain that any place outside paradise is a place of human ignorance. By accompanying him, Lucifer suggests, Cain can satisfy his quest to learn the “mystery of my being.”

Abyss of space

Abyss of space. Lucifer calls infinite space the “phantasm of the world; of which thy world/ Is but the wreck.” The abyss of space represents all places prohibited to man by God but which Lucifer can show to Cain.


Hades (hay-deez). Underworld that Lucifer shows to Cain to prove God’s hatred of man. In Hades, many “good, great, glorious things” have been taken from the earth, just as Cain and his family will be taken when they die. For Cain, this knowledge of Hades confirms Lucifer’s condemnation of God. Lucifer urges that Cain associate his well-being not with an actual place but rather with “an inner world” composed of his own thoughts.


*Earth. Region outside Eden to which Cain returns from Hades. He is enraged that his brother still worships a vengeful God who will continue to punish generations of innocent humans. He tells his sister Adah he has seen worlds closed both to humans and to God’s light. To Cain the earth seems merely a place of dust and toil. Angry that his brother Abel should still want to appease a bloodthirsty God, Cain strikes and kills him. Not only has Cain lost his place in the family, he must travel even farther away from Eden; he is truly a man without a place.


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Chew, Samuel Claggett. The Dramas of Lord Byron: A Critical Study. New York: Russell & Russell, 1964. Despite its age, Chew’s study remains the best place to begin any study of Byron and his writing for the theater.

Crane, David. The Kindness of Sisters. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. A study of Byron’s reputation after death, exploring bitter and conflicting accounts by the wife he divorced and the sister he seduced.

Lowes, John Livingston. The Road to Xanadu. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927. This famous study includes background material useful for the study of Romantic literature as a whole. Lowes’s treatment of the legend of Cain is still one of the best.

MacCarthy, Fiona. Byron: Life and Legend. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. A biography that re-examines the life of the poet in the light of MacCarthy’s assertion that Byron was bisexual, a victim of early abuse by his nurse.

Marchand, Leslie. Byron: A Biography. 3 vols. New York: Knopf, 1957. Byron, one of the most autobiographical of all poets, led a fascinating life. In many instances, his works are largely an idealized version of his own experiences. Marchand’s biography is the standard one and reliably illuminates autobiographical elements in Cain.

Thorslev, Peter L. The Byronic Hero: Types and Prototypes. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962. Probably the most helpful book that a student confronting Byron for the first time can read. Thorslev describes seven well-known types of heroes in Romantic literature before turning specifically to Byron’s. Depictions of Cain in legend and literature are summarized. Byron’s Cain is usefully compared with John Milton’s Satan and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust.

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Critical Essays