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Manfred

July 26, 2010

is a long poem by Lord Byron that I had never read (or which I have no memory of reading) until today. He writes it while Mary is starting Frankenstein and I cannot get over the parallels: the themes of freedom and slavery, the Alpine setting, the power of the human imagination. But there are many many differences. His hero, Manfred, is heartbroken because the love of his life has died. Like Orpheus, he seeks assistance from the gods. But unlike Orpheus, he does not want a reunion with his beloved. He does not want a resurrection, even a temporary one. No, he wants to forget her. He wants oblivion. I am a little shocked at this. But I shouldn’t be. This is Byron, after all. Of course, he wants to forget her. The drama is not about her, anyways. The poem is about Byron/Manfred and what he has to suffer through. Because naturally he suffers greatly.

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