World reclamation in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound
Myth has a fluid function within culture, literature, and time. How myth is interpreted depends upon which element of it inspires or interests a person. The mythical figure of Prometheus has become embedded in the cultural consciousness since Ancient Greece in part because of how his changing role in myth speaks to both the individual and the world. Prometheus plays many parts-trickster, creator, benefactor of mankind, symbol of the suffering artist -- and perhaps the most famous of all-fire-bringer. Each interpretation builds upon one of these roles as well as thematic elements, the relationship between the Titan and the gods, as well as the relationship between Prometheus and mankind. This work seeks to first explore the various iterations of Prometheus and his myth to determine the major characteristics he is associated with in order to trace his arc from Classical literature to Percy Bysshe Shelley's groundbreaking work, Prometheus Unbound. Shelley's work is Promethean in its vision of how the Titan's act of rebellion and subsequent punishment actually incite an act of world reclamation. Earlier interpretations of the myth tend to individualize the Titan's acts or embed them within a single culture. By promoting an idealized vision of world change, Shelley shapes Prometheus into a figure of change -- a benefactor of mankind who replaces the tyranny of the gods with a new order of love and freedom. However, there is a dark underpinning to this vision -- one that will be explored in film.
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