Analysis of a Poem Manfred by George Byron

Published: 2021-10-02 01:15:06
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Category: Love, Tragedy, Exercise, Forgiveness, Heaven

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essayed- Manfred has attempted to find answers to his lack of happiness. He has tried to do good deeds and he has done wrong as well; yet neither has offered him answers.
avail- Manfred is considering his life, both the good and the bad; however as he tries to figure out his purpose in life he cannot. Avail is to do well or to be of use. In Manfred’s case, all his searching is useless and has not rendered him any answers.

Promethean- Byron uses the word promethean to express Manfred’s belief that he has lived as a creative and imaginative being much like the spirits, yet the spirits mock him as only human.
Uncharnel- Lord Byron chose this word to describe Manfred’s raising of Astarte, Manfred’s love, from the dead. Charnel is a tomb or sometimes when used in literature suggests death. In this case, Byron used it as a description of awakening the dead.
Anchorite- The abbot comes to Manfred, hoping to convince him to pray to God and not leave his fate in the hands of the spirits. He appeals to Manfred’s likeness to an anchorite, or a person living a life of prayer in solitude (can also be in a religious community); only Manfred spent his solitary life without prayer.
Mediator- Manfred wants to deal with his earthly discretions directly with heaven. He tells the abbot that he will deal directly with heaven and has no desire for the abbot to intervene and explain his actions to ensure his entrance to heaven.
Atonement- The abbot believed, as his religion expects, that atonement, asking for forgiveness for sins, is the only way of getting into heaven. Manfred on the other hand feels he should deal with his mistakes himself and be responsible for his own soul.
Cataract- The abbot wants Manfred to reconsider his life and achievements, but Manfred compares his life to that of a cataract, or waterfall. He feels that all his hopes to achieve great things amounted to nothing and crashed like the water of a cataract.
Averse- Manfred defended his choice to live in solitude to the abbot. He felt his life was unlike those of other men. He believed that his nature was to be alone unlike others who preferred the company of others.
Colloquy- Manfred becomes annoyed by the abbot’s insistence of atonement before death. The conversation becomes intense and Manfred tells the abbot that the conversation is over.
a. The event which Manfred speaks of is the death of Astarte which he blames on himself and from that point on he does not care about his life and wants it only to be over.
b. Manfred’s destiny according to the spirit is to “live” in purgatory. The spirit says,
And on thy head I pour the vial
Which doth devote thee to this trial;
Nor to Slumber, nor to die,
Shall be in thy destiny (I.i.261);
The spirit warns Manfred that he will not sleep or die, but parish.
c. After summoning the spirits, Manfred feels as though they are mocking him and this angers him. He feels that he would be a slave of the spirits should he agree with the witch and swear him obedience.  This is somewhat contradicting since he needs them to raise Astarte’s spirit.
d. The witch seems sympathetic to Manfred’s sadness and wants to stop his pain but then asks for something in return as a sign of his sincerity; which he angrily refuses. While Manfred claimed to want the witch’s help he out right refuses to give any part of him in return for her help. During Manfred’s encounter with the witch, Manfred describes his total infatuation and love for his sister, Astarte.
e. During Manfred’s encounter with the spirits, Nemesis was the one to summons Astarte from the dead. Nemesis mocks Manfred as with false pity. Nemesis by definition indicates a person who is an enemy or a force that inflicts injury. In Manfred, Nemesis is inflicting pain by bringing the spirit who despised Manfred to him; knowing how much he loved her.
III. Themes
a. Manfred describes human lives as being lived in many different orders. Some live long and simple lives whereas some live harsh, painful lives which cause them death before their time. Manfred professes to be a man who deserves an early death because of all he’s seen and done and all the pain he’s caused and received.
Orders as seen in today’s standards have many connotations. Orders today can be seen as different groups of people in society. One example could pertain to religious groups, such as the Order of Saint Francis. People can live their lives in a particular order based on their moral and ethical beliefs. If one believes they have the potential the achieve greatness, they will live accordingly. In the contrary, if one feels life is meaningless they will not strive for more.
b. The abbot’s sympathy towards Manfred allows the readers to understand Manfred’s complex reasoning for not wanting to abide by the religious orders required by the abbot’s religion. The play would have had a very different impact had the abbot been unsympathetic to Manfred. The whole story revolves around the choice Manfred makes to deal with heaven directly, rather than praying for forgiveness.
Manfred feels that the abbot’s religion does not pertain to him. Had the abbot not been portrayed as a sympathetic man then the audience would not have seen Manfred defend his right to go to heaven without absolution. The abbot, begs Manfred to reconsider his choice to not ask for absolution;
Abbot.  My pious brethren, the scared peasantry,
Even thy own vassals, who do look on thee
With most unquiet eyes. Thy life’s in peril.
Man.  Take it.
Abbot. I come to save, and not destroy (III.I. 55-60).
IV. Mini-Essays
Byron uses two different narrative approaches in “Manfred” and “Beppo”. The differences in narration and tone portray two different types of love; forbidden and innocent. The following essay examines key differences between “Beppo” and “Manfred”.
Two different types of narration are used in Byron’s “Manfred” and “Beppo”. In “Manfred”, Byron creates Manfred as a main character and uses first person narration to allow the reader to get a first hand experience of Manfred’s thoughts and emotions. The narrator in “Beppo” is not an actual main character. The narrator in “Beppo” has the advantage of seeing all the characters and their emotions. The narrator in “Beppo” also relates his own experiences with love in comparison to Byron’s characters. The narrator in “Beppo” has a more upbeat and positive tone about love and life than Manfred, as the narrator says;
But they were young: Oh ! what without our youth
Would love be ! What would youth be without love!
Youth lends it joy, and sweetness, vigour, truth,
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above; (LV.).
Manfred expresses sadness throughout his tale. Unlike the narrator in “Beppo”, Manfred tells of his own personal tragedy. For example, in Act I, Manfred tells of his life of sorrow and disappointment;
But grief should be the instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
Must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life (I.I.10).
The narrator in “Beppo” reminisces of past romantic experiences, passing his knowledge to the audience. He compares Laura’s love of Beppo and the Count to his own past experiences; and while he shares the joy and satisfaction of young love, he must have had his heart broken in the past because he also can sympathize with the disappointments of love.
Manfred only briefly speaks of happiness, and that is while reminiscing of his time with Astarte. The love in which Manfred speaks of is a forbidden love; “I say ’tis blood—my blood! the pure warm stream/  Which ran in the veins of my fathers, and in ours/ When we were in our youth, and had one heart,/ And loved each other as we should not love”, (II. I. 28-31). Byron’s “Beppo” however, is based on a more innocent love.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the characters in Byron’s two stories is the personalities and psyche of the main characters. “Manfred” is a tale of pain and suffering; Manfred is obviously depressed and suicidal; he speaks often of his loneliness and impatience with life; wishing it was over. “Beppo” doesn’t focus on just one moment in time as a basis for the narrator’s emotions. The narrator is unbiased, he tells of both the good and the bad in love.
Essay   b.
In the stories “Manfred” by Byron and “Descent into the Maelstrom” there are very distinct main characters. The characters share some similar qualities which this essay will examine; as well as some of their differences and how each could be considered heroes.
The two stories express tragic experiences as the cause for the main characters motives. Manfred’s tragedy was his own doing, by acting on the feelings he had for his sister, while the guide’s tragic experience was caused by nature. Both characters acted on their experience differently; while the guide used his tragic adventure as a learning experience in which he uses to inspire his company, Manfred dwells on his tragic experience, letting it run his life and eventually end it.
Both characters Manfred and the guide; had aged before their time. Manfred felt it was his time to die, even though the Chamois hunter questions this. The hunter can’t understand why a man younger than himself would want to end his life. Manfred explains; “Think’st thou existence doth depend on time?/  It doth; but actions are our epochs: mine/  Have made my days and nights imperishable (II.I. 56-58)”.
The guide considers himself to have aged dramatically from that tragic moment at sea, he tells his company; “You suppose me a very old man - but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow” (par.2).
Both of the characters feel that they have vast amounts of life experience which is why they feel old. Their decisions are based on this feeling of being wise beyond their year. Manfred feels he has experienced too much hardship to go on, whereas the guide feels it has made him stronger, though still fearful. This can be seen as heroic for both men, it is seen more obvious in the guide; however Manfred has taken his future in his own hands and has not been persuaded by others. He knows what he did was wrong, and that his sister’s death can be blamed on him, so he does the only thing that seems right.
Both characters were strong willed, however, Manfred was not aware of this; it was the spirit who recognized his strength. The guide likely new his strength from surviving such an ordeal as the Moskoe-ström; yet the guide used this inner strength as a way to inspire his guest.
Both Manfred and the guide had a moment of peacefulness and acceptance; Manfred before he died and the guide right before he thought he was about to die. After being terrified the guide experiences a moment of acceptance;
I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a consideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God's power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea crossed my mind. (par.37).
Manfred has a moment of acceptance when the spirit comes for him;
I knew, and know my hour is come, but not
To render up my soul to such as thee:
Away! I’ll die as I have lived—alone (III. IV. 104-106).
Byron’s “Manfred” is a tale based on tragedy whereas Poe’s “Descent into the Maelstrom” is a story of strength and accomplishment. These two stories demonstrate the very different approaches one can take after a tragic event. Manfred chose to wallow in his pain and eventually puts an end to it, while the guide chose to live with a new outlook on life.
A Descent into the Maelstrom
Byron, George G. N. Harvard Classics (vol.18) (part 6) Manfred. A Dramatic Poem. (1909). Retrieved Febru

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