Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Things to Consider:
- Byronic Hero: Harold vs. Manfred
- Closet Drama genre
- Role of Spirits (compared, for example, with those in
Coleridge's Ancient Mariner)
- Bounds of Knowledge (Scientific and Intimate)
- Power of Speech/Language
- Relationship to Nature
- Which of the characteristics of the Byronic Hero does Manfred
exemplify? Provide a quote in support of your claim.
- How, according to the
editors, is Manfred different from Faust?
- Describe Manfred's emotional state at the beginning of
- What does Manfred request of the seven spirits?
- Explain lines 1.2.39-45:
- But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
- Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
- To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
- A conflict of emotions, and breathe
- The breath of degradation and of pride,
- Contending with low wants and lofty will,
- Till our Mortality predominates.
- How do these lines compare with Pope's
Essay on Man?
- Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
- A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
- With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
- With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
- He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
- In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
- In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
- Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; (Pope
- Explain: “Actions are our epochs” (2.1.52).
- Describe the relationship between Manfred and Astarte
(the woman he describes in 2.2.105-17).
- What bargain does the Witch of the Alps offer
Manfred? Why does he refuse it?
- Explain Manfred's speech to Astarte (2.4.116-50).
- Explain Manfred's final words (3.4.151).
Other Discussion Questions:
- Is Manfred a sympathetic character? Explain.
- Does Manfred get what he deserves? Feel free to interpret
this question however you want.
- Explain: What is a “tyrant-spell” (1.1.43)?
- What phenomenon is being described in 1.1.116-19?
- What can't Manfred utter (1.1.138)?
- Explain: “We can but give thee that which we possess”
- Who is singing the Incantation?
- Explain lines 1.1.254-57.
- Why can't Manfred commit suicide?
- What might the eagle represent?
- Explain: “Oh, that I were / The viewless spirit of a lovely
- [These lines can be compared with Percy Shelley's “To a
Skylark,”esp. 18-20 and 36-40, and Keats's “Ode to a
Nightingale,” esp. 31-33.]
- Explain Manfred's appeal to the avalanche (1.2.75-79).
- Why does the chamois hunter stop Manfred from committing
- Of whose blood does the wine remind Manfred (2.1.24-30)?
- Is Manfred's view of the chamois hunter
- Explain: “My embrace was fatal” (2.1.88).
- Explain lines 2.2.10-12. Does Manfred seek solitude
or not? Explain.
- Explain lines 2.2.39-41. What knowledge, if any, is
- To what degree are the experiences Manfred describes in
2.2.50-83 Wordsworthian? To what degree do they reveal
his status as a Byronic Hero? Explain.
- Explain lines 2.2.140-50. How does Manfred compare
with the Wandering Jew? Explain.
- Who are the three Destinies? What is their
relationship to humans? How are they similar to the
witches in MacBeth?
- Who is Arimanes? Why have the spirits gathered
before him? Why is Manfred there?
- Why does Manfred refuse to bow to Arimanes (2.4.37-42)?
- Explain lines 2.4.46-49.
- What is the significance of Astarte's name?
- Explain Astarte's responses (2.4.150-59).
- Explain: “This is to be mortal / And seek things
beyond mortality” (2.4.158-59).
- Explain: He “makes /
His torture tributary to his will” (2.4.160-61).
- Why has the Abbot come?
- What is he saying about Manfred's “noble name”
- Explain Manfred's words to the Abbot: “I shall not
choose a mortal / To be my mediator” (3.1.54-55).
- Explain Manfred's discussion of holy men and
self-condemnation in 3.1.66-78.
- Why does Manfred say “It is too late” (3.1.98)? Is it
really? Does the Abbot agree? Explain.
- Explain: “He / Must serve who fain would sway”
- Who is "thou earliest minister of the Almighty"
- Why is Manfred addressing the “Monarch of the
climes”(3.2.20) in this way?
- According to Manuel, how does Manfred differ from his
father, Count Sigismund?
- Explain the description of Nature in 3.4.3-7.
- Explain Manfred's words to the spirits in 3.4.112-21.
- Explain Manfred's words to the spirits in 3.4.138-41.
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