Sympathy and Revulsion in Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound"

Di Muzio, Sara, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Stauffer, Andrew, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia

In this paper, I examine Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound through a lens that understands an ethical unity of opposites as essential to Shelley’s utopian project. Specifically, I scrutinize occasions in the drama on which the seemingly antithetical emotions of sympathy and revulsion commingle. I argue for something akin to a law of conservation of emotional energy in the Shelleyan ethos. Strong emotion, a subject which Shelley often treats analytically in his prose and portrays evocatively in his poetry, can allow for an easy and rapid conversion of positive feeling to negative, and vice versa. When sentiment runs high, such feelings as sympathy and antipathy can coexist. I see Prometheus Unbound, with its Stoically-minded hero and eventual achievement of utopia, as one of the foremost exemplars of Shelley working through a methodology for the incorporation and eradication of evil in the advent of an ideal world.

MA (Master of Arts)
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