Analysis of Lord Byron's "Manfred"

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Lord Byron’s dramatic poem, Manfred, written during 1816-1817 can be interpreted in many ways. Manfred represents Byron’s vision of the Byronic hero, who is seen superior to humans, but rejects the comfort brought to him by religious representatives. Throughout this poem, it is clear that he feels regret and guilt, to whom and for what it is, is another question. Some believe that his guilt is directed toward his lover, Astarte. The theme that seems to be most apparent in this poem is the guilt he proclaims throughout and how death is possibly is only solution. In Act one Scene one, Manfred calls upon seven spirits who represent earth and its elements and the seventh who determines Manfred’s destiny. He asks of them “forgetfulness,” but they were unable to grant him what he wishes. The way I have interpreted this is that he almost seems he is in a depression because his words are very powerful and almost suicidal throughout. During scene two, his acts of suicide are more apparent. He states, “I feel the impulse – yet I do not plunge; I see the peril – yet do not recede; And my brain reels – and yet my foot is firm…” At this part of the scene, he becomes more aware of himself and of his surrounding, but does not jump to his death. If we refer back to scene one, after he falls senseless to seeing the figure the seventh spirit had taken, the spirits chanted some sort of incantation and maybe it possessed him to put his suicidal thoughts into actions. It has also been said that the embodiment of the seventh spirit was of his love Astarte, which makes sense to him falling and feeling the pain of regret once again. In some ways death denied him because it wants to be the one to take him when the time comes. Manfred’s love for his sister Astarte has taken a toll on his life because it was hinted that she took her own life. His love for her was not just one of a sibling, but for a woman he truly cared for. He professes to the witch saying, “She was like me in...
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