Prometheus Unbound: by Shelley - Summary and Analysis

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Summary
      Prometheus Unbound is generally considered to be Shelley's masterpiece. In it the splendour of his imagination may be read in almost every line. Prometheus had been the benefactor of humanity in giving to man the secret of making fire and the knowledge of all the arts which fire makes possible. Prometheus angered Zeus, for with fire men began to rival the gods in power and wisdom. Zeus punished Prometheus by having him chained to a precipice in thee Caucasus. Shelley's play is a sequel to Aeschylus play, Prometheus Bound. The central idea of the play is that man is able to will his own destiny. The way to end evil is not by countering it with violence but by suffusing the collective spirit of humanity with love. Asia is the active principle of love. Demogorgon (Necessity) is awakened to action by the power of love. Demogorgon casts Jupiter down to destruction. Prometheus is liberated by Hercules. In union with Asia, Prometheus (Free, creative human mind) starts the new Promethean age of perfection.

Prometheus Unbound is generally considered to be Shelley's masterpiece
Prometheus Unbound

Critical Analysis
      The Promethean legend is seen as the contest of good versus evil. Prometheus unbound is a lyrical drama. Its sensuous imagery is symbolic of mental processes. The poem's claim to lasting fame rests upon the soaring, idealistic lyricism, specially in the stanzaic tributes to the free creative spirit of man. Shelley employs a wide variety of stanzas with easy grace. It shows Shelley's soaring aspiration for the liberation of mankind from the tyranny of institutions. Prometheus is the incarnation of liberated mankind and Zeus is the symbol of cruel institution. Asia is love. Reign of love ultimately prevails and "thrones, altars, judgement seats and prisons" are things of the past, It is a combination of the lyric and the drama. Series of lyrics both sustain and embellish the action. The poem has a sweep and a soar that sometimes stagger the imagination. In its theme and treatment, it is romantic and testifies to Shelley's revolutionary idealism.

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