In defence of Hellas. An analysis of Shelley's Hellas and its reception

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In defence of Hellas. An analysis of Shelley's Hellas and its reception


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Title: In defence of Hellas. An analysis of Shelley's Hellas and its reception
Author: Løkse, Mariann Cesilie
Date: Dec-1994
Type: Master thesis; Mastergradsoppgave
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to study the ways in which Shelley’s lyrical drama, Hellas, has been received, and to show how the poem belongs within the Shelley canon, both structurally and thematically. Hellas is a drama inspired by the Greek insurrection against Turkey in the 1820s, and the action is seen from the Turkish sultan Mahmud’s point of view. This enables Shelley to focus both on Turkish defeat, via Mahmud, and Greek victory , through the Chorus. The first chapter looks at the sources of Hellas and how three major writers, Aeschylus, Milton and Calderon, influenced Shelley in his work. The second chapter is inspired by Jauss’s theory on the reader’s active participation in the reception of a work. I then go on to a general critical survey. Judging by available written material on Hellas, the work does not belong to Shelley’s more popular literary production. In chapter four and five I analyse the drama with specific attention to character and structure. Because the drama has little external action, I find it relevant to study the major characters: Mahmud, the protagonist, Hassan, Mahmud’s closest associate, the figure of the Wandering Jew, and the Chorus, with its soft and flowing poetry. In the structural analysis I look at each of the drama’s seven parts, and focus on symmetry and the chaos-order dichotomy. In my conclusion I argue that Hellas does not depart from Shelley’s usual style or themes. Even though the poet himself called it a mere improvise, I find that Hellas is a carefully designed and planned whole, where theme and structure are interwoven
Publisher: Universitetet i Tromsø; University of Tromsø

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