“Where the Split Began” (Prometheus Unbound, Act III)
The chapter analyzes the third act of Shelley’s play, “Prometheus Unbound,” and follows the sequence of events from the fall of Jupiter to the release of Prometheus and his union with Asia. In this act, the tyrannical “Father” is overthrown indirectly through Prometheus and his foreknowledge, in union with the feminine—Mother Earth and his lover. Jupiter is replaced by his son Demogorgon, who is seen as a creative and unifying force, instead of destructive and oppressive. The influence of William Godwin’s philosophies are present in the play, which mirrors Shelley’s vision of an ideal society free from the power of tyrannical institutions and thus enabling its inhabitants to become reformed as well. Through his work, Shelley had intended to support and possibly effect this reformation. The act’s conclusion in the Spirit of the Hour’s speech expands Shelley’s vision for mankind to include a renewal of the cosmos as well.
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