Prometheus's Role of the Poet

Sarah M. Connelly '15, Gettysburg College


This essay examines the characterization of Prometheus in the opening speech of Prometheus Unbound, by Percy Shelley, through the lens of Shelley’s “Defense of Poetry” in order to argue Prometheus’ existence as a poet. By giving humanity wisdom and bridging the gap between logic and compassion, Prometheus becomes the point from which imagination, beauty, art, and poetry stems. Prometheus’ role developed into a model of morality and love in contrast to the fear and spite of Zeus, whose influence is reflected in the evils of mankind. Yet, through the torturous reign of Zeus, Prometheus transcends his hate by retracting his curse on Zeus during in Act I of the poem, effectively immortalizing himself as a poet whose sacrifice for humanity became the catalyst for true beauty in the world.