Prometheus Unbound

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In examining Asia’s speech, appearing in Act 2 of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound,’ it is evident that Shelley utilised a vast range of themes to create such a unique piece. Overall, the play draws chiefly from areas such as Philosophy, Romanticism, Mythology, Music and Religion (Rossetti). However, the play itself could not have been created without Shelley’s reading of Aeschylus’s play, “Prometheus Bound” (McDonald). In this sense, the play is very much an appropriation of and sequel to the original. With the above matters combined, Shelley created a work that is conceptually complex, providing the foundations for a challenging yet dramatic play that “paradoxically performs itself inside the mind of the reader” (Quillin).

Asia’s speech in Act 2 reveals Prometheus as fundamentally, the first humanitarian. As such, Prometheus is known as the liberator of humanity and referred to as the “culture bringer” (Greenblatt 821). Symbolically, Rossetti affirms, “The unbinding of Prometheus is the unbinding of the human mind” (28). In addition, Rossetti suggests the cave that retains Prometheus “…is the cavern of the human mind- the recesses of creative and contemplative thought, vocal with human sympathy, fertile of human enlightenment and elevation” (31). Therefore, Shelley's ideas signify Romanticism, as his writing insinuates when individuals attain freedom, the power of their imagination is unlocked (Quillin).This can be seen in the “Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers,

Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms;
That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings
The shape of death; and Love he sent to bind
The disunited tendrils of that vine”

“Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes
Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers,
Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms;
That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings
The shape of death; and Love he sent to bind
The disunited tendrils of that vine”

subsequent fragments of Asia’s speech.

First and foremost, Asia’s speech is one of unrhymed rhythm and abundant of religious connotations depicting parallels between Greek mythology and Christianity (Quillin). The word ‘Elysian’ refers to Greek mythology and the paradise to which heroes on whom the gods deliberated immortality were sent (Encyclopædia Britannica). The word ‘hope’ is personified as it is ‘woken’. The awakening of ‘legioned hopes’ may also signify the mass of humanity, in the sense they have been transitorily paralysed by Jupiter’s wrath. It also provides parallels to purgatory, as the forced temporary suffering upon human kind occurs for an unspecified period of time (Padgett).  The heavenly flowers act as strength to Prometheus. With Prometheus’ epiphany that love is the answer, the ‘binding’ of the ‘disunited tendrils’ symbolises Prometheus’ realisation that he can be reunited with his wife. The ‘vine’ may also symbolise the chains that bound Prometheus to the cliff. In addition, metaphorically, the vine could represent the almighty strength of a vine in comparison to Prometheus and Asia’s undying love. Rossetti expands this notion, by stating Prometheus and Asia may be regarded as the “union of the mind and body, or mind and “Which bears the wine of life, the human heart; And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey,

Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath
The frown of man, and tortured to his will
Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power,
And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms,
Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves.”

“Which bears the wine of life, the human heart;
And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey,
Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath
The frown of man, and tortured to his will
Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power,
And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms,
Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves.”

beauty, or intellectual and emotional/loving...
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