Chapter

‘Daughters of Earth’: The Divided Self and the Heroines of the Mythological Dramas

Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112303.003.0009
‘Daughters of Earth’: The Divided Self and the Heroines of the Mythological Dramas

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In his lyrical dramas, Manfred, Cain, and Heaven and Earth, Lord Byron both used and subverted the Christian genre of the morality play, placing a male everyman protagonist between the forces of evil and good, which contend for his soul. As in the political plays, Byron interrogates the dualism of modern Western consciousness: the perceived opposition between reason and sentiment, and the association of the former with masculinity and the latter with femininity. Astarte and Adah are therefore aligned with community values which have to be rejected by the defiant male individualist. In Heaven and Earth, Byron experiments with heroines who are simultaneously idealised for their capacity for selfless love and yet reviled for their sexual sinfulness. Such feminine stereotypes are common enough. What makes Anah and Aholibamah so interesting is that they are centre-stage of the mythological drama, representing mankind. Throughout these three plays, the concepts of masculinity and femininity are constantly interrogated and reassessed.

Keywords: Manfred; Cain; Heaven and Earth; Lord Byron; dualism; Astarte; Adah; Anah; Aholibamah; femininity

Chapter.  15420 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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