Problematique Of Shakespeare And The Thin Air English Literature Essay

In the first act of Shelley’s play, the faithful servant of Jupiter, Mercury, comes to Prometheus, and, unlike the character of the ancient drama embodying loyalty, confesses of disagreement with the wish of his revengeful master and of sympathy for Prometheus, which is concordant with dissatisfaction of subordinates of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The dialogue of the main hero of the drama with the swift-footed courier contains philosophical reasoning about Time, about fate, about true destination of a human, and about immortal life. At the same time, Mercury suddenly confesses: "Awful Sufferer! / To thee unwilling, most unwillingly / I come, by the great Father's will driven down" [2] . In Shakespeare’s chronicles, researchers also note the constant internal struggle, disagreement of heroes with Gloucester’s behaviour: "The moral protest appears in drama long before the political protest, and Richmond, using the general hate to the tyrant, unites everybody to struggle" [3] . The night prayer of Richmond before the battle, when the hero calls himself a God’s warrior committing the great deed of punishment, is also significant. In the morning, Richmond calls on the soldiers to bravely struggle against the enemy and the tyrant. Turning to the text of Shelley’s drama, it is possible to note the striking resemblance to "Richard III". The ideas of struggle against tyranny in Shelley’s works are embodied in the mythological images and motives: Jupiter seizes power on Olympus shedding a lot of blood, and then strengthens his position with the help of tortures and executions; Prometheus opposes Zeus with his spiritual fortitude and persistent disinclination to reveal a secret of downfall of thunderer from the heights of Olympus. Prometheus, and later Demogorgon act in Shelley’s drama as courageous fighters against tyranny.

Here appears the main layer of comparison of two dramas: the time for tyrant’s overthrow is predetermined by his actions and is predetermined inevitably; retribution comes for all committed evil deeds sooner or later. Demogorgon is the name of fair avenger, performer of execution appointed by fate in the work "Prometheus Unbound". But the death of another one tyrant, depicted in Shakespeare’s play under consideration, is not less logical. Retribution there is also interpreted by the characters of the drama as interference of the highest forces; it is preceded by the numerous prophecies, curses, and terrible apparitions. The omen of the day, when the furious tyrant had to die, in these two dramas is the identical natural event – the sun does not want to rise until the fatal hour. Richard suspects the force of the last judgement, but by all possible means (lie, betrayal, murder) he tries to struggle against stubborn fate, which is proof against him:

As I remember, Henry the Sixth

Did prophesy that Richmond should be king,

When Richmond was a little peevish boy

A king, perhaps, perhaps,--…

How chance the prophet could not at that time

Have told me, I being by, that I should kill him? [4] 

Thus, it is possible to speak about combination of pagan and Christian world view in dramas of Shakespeare and Shelley. To a certain extent, predictions conform to the ancient tradition, and interference of the highest force for fair punishment corresponds to the Christian doctrine. It is noteworthy that in Shelley’s drama, by all means, Jupiter (like Richard III) tries but cannot oppose the highest force. Unlike the ancient myth, Jupiter failed to crush the will of Prometheus and to find out the reason of his death. Thus, the idea of the last judgement is combined in the texts of Shakespeare and Shelley with the predictions of oracles, that is the predetermined human fate. Shelley develops Shakespeare’s urge to combine ancient and modern understanding of fate in his plays.

In his dramas, Shakespeare always punishes unfair heroes, including rulers, and Shelley completely changes dénouement of the myth with the purpose to present, from the point of view of morality, fidelity to duty, an ideal hero and end drama with overthrow of tyrant and creation of the renewed world. It was no coincidence for Shelley to note in his letter to Leigh Hunt of 1820: "If faith is a virtue in any case it is so in politics rather than religion ; as having a power of producing a belief in that which is at once a prophecy and a cause" [5] .

This means that Shelley, as well as his great predecessor, considered that for the favourable development of social events, a politician must act remembering about inevitable responsibility for his decisions before the last judgement. Exactly this idea feeds the belief of the authors in the fact that the natural course of life shall not cause chaos and destruction. However, the similar concept of the authors has certain share of important difference. Thus, according to Shakespeare, punishment of heroes cannot lead the world to the ideal condition, the tragedy of being remains after punishment of a villain. For example, it is indicated by the image of "the rack of the world" mentioned in the finale of "King Lear". On the contrary, Shelley in his dramas promises readers, with the help of predictions, prophetic dreams, acts of nature, that sooner or later, justice will reign on the Earth, the lost paradise will be returned, and courageous and generous people will be found in the state to support these transformations. In the note on "Prometheus Unbound", Mary Shelley states that the writer’s understanding of fate was connected with the Christian view proving the initial perfection of a human with his subsequent unintentional fall: "Shelley believed that mankind had only to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none" [6] . According to Shelley, a person is able to become so perfect to drive evil away both from the own nature and from the whole world.

In his dramas, Shakespeare creates fantastic images of tragedy connected with the motive of inevitable fate. In his drama "Oedipus Tyrannus; Or, Swellfoot The Tyrant", Shelley, like Shakespeare, uses the artistic means in order to more brightly depict the historical situation, and, by repeating the strange prophecy, he makes readers feel the tension of the situation in the country. The whole logic of the development of the drama’s action brings to the following conclusion: conflict of the rulers and deceived people is inevitable. Like in "Macbeth" tragedy, in this Shelly’s satirical drama, the prediction – quatrain about the tyrant’s downfall – becomes leitmotif and is proved correctly, despite its fantastic nature.

If to speak about "Macbeth", then in this Shakespeare’s tragedy, the great, even the crucial role belongs to predictions. Witches meet the leaders of the army with the prophecy, calling Macbeth as the "king hereafter", and saying that Banquo "shalt get kings". Then, in act 4, scene I of the play, Macbeth is said: "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until / Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him" [7] . The apparent unreality of this event causes the king to think about the fact that he was chosen, and that the highest forces will continue to help him in everything. Thus, the prophecy in the play is very important because it makes the hero feel calm and confident in his strength, in his "invincibility". This feeling will let him down afterwards. When the second part of the prophecy starts to come true, the crowned betrayer will finally find the real understanding both of the force of fate and of the fair retribution. However, one cannot say that Macbeth felt no retribution in his soul before: already before Duncan’s murder, the hero starts to tell about earthly punishment with the highest forces, about impossibility to sleep and think quietly, he admits that his calm spirit is gradually destroyed by fear of the last judgement: "We still have judgement here; that we but teach / Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return / To plague the inventor" (I, 7).

From the very beginning of "Macbeth" tragedy, the witches predict that good and evil will mix in the play; sometime it is impossible to discern them: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: / Hover through the fog and filthy air" (I, 1, 10-11). The similar non-distinction of good and evil is considered in "The Revolt of Islam" (canto I, stanza 28) as a long-standing trouble of humanity. At the same time, Fury in the first drama of Shelly echoes Shakespeare’s predecessors presenting the world to Prometheus in its disgraceful phenomena and tragic delusions: "foul and fair / Like a tempest through the air" [8] . In "The Cenci" the main heroine also notes the strange combination of good and evil in life revealed to her in form of implacable cruelty and sufferings: "Horrible things have been in this wide world, / Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange / Of good and ill" (III, 1, 51-53). Lucretia, speaking about "so wicked" Cenci, says the words describing the hero: "yet recking not of good or ill" (IV, 2, 11).

At first, Beatrice in Shelley’s tragedy believes in fairness of the Last Judgement: when she has to plan parricide, she calls herself a heavenly avenger, and Marzio – "sword in the right hand of justest God". But after the cruel and merciless judgement of her family, the heroine notes that the God admitted villainy, and then took all the ways to defence away, "all access to retribution", in addition to what judges call parricide. Thus, Beatrice’s world view in the play changes from the belief in mercy, in fairness of the Last Judgement to thoughts about miserable earthly justice and about fatal heavenly cruelty towards people. The polemics of Shelley and Shakespeare continues in this work: this time, the romanticist emphasizes the indifference of heaven towards earthly misfortunes, fatal doom of good people to senseless sufferings, impossibility to resist evil (similar to ancient world outlook, as opposed to Shakespeare’s humanistic view).

The artistic devices embodying the idea of the last judgement and divine justice in the dramas of the writers under the research include the fantastic nature of "tyrannical night" (astonished condition of nature) and conditional character of symbolic, contrasting dreams. In gloomy tragedies of Shakespeare ("Julius Caesar", "King Lear", "Macbeth"), the loss of harmony and accession of evil in the world is accompanied by threatening natural phenomena responding to the destruction of the Great Chain of Being: tempest, earthquake, eclipse, chime. It is possible to call these coincidences as the Christian tradition, because the moment of martyred death of Christ was noted with eclipse, earthquake and destruction of the church; and the loss of religious and moral fundamentals in the world were always accompanied by natural disasters (flood, volcanic eruption, etc.). However, representation of these phenomena in the theatre as the important dramatic effect confirming author’s ideas is the special Shakespeare’s device. In Shelley’s works, all signs of Shakespeare’s "tyrannical night" as metaphors of the last judgement may be found in dramas "Prometheus Unbound" (I, 161-179), "The Cenci" (II, 3) and "Hellas" (587-615). It is also significant that in the historical chronicles of Shakespeare "Richard III" (V, 3), and in Shelley’s tragedy "The Cenci" (IV, 2), cruel villains and their antagonists – fighters against tyranny – see contrasting dreams symbolizing and containing the important author’s messages – prophecies. At the same time, tyrants, the characters of these works, dispute the meaning of their prophetic dreams, as they do not believe in the force of human conscience.

Analyzing the works from the point of view of their providential function, it is necessary to especially note the romanticists. Shelley often used this device, for example, in philosophical and didactic poem "Queen Mab", as well as in dramas "Prometheus Unbound", "Oedipus Tyrannus", "Hellas", and "Charles The First". Shelley used the images of prophets often: name Prometheus derived from the Greek means "forethinker". In the epigraph to the drama, the romanticist mentions another one mythological prophet: Amphiarae, who was forced by Greek commanders to fight against Thebes, despite the fact that he predicted defeat, and for this he afterwards was concealed by Zeus in the underworld (epigraph says: "Audisne, haec Amphiarae, sub terram abdite?"). Perhaps, the author’s address to the ancient warrior and prophet was caused by the fact that his salvation was arranged by the ruler overthrown in the romantic drama; at the same time, Amphiarae was not able to warn his rescuer against approach of the death.

In his essay "A Defence of Poetry", Shelley proved that the present poetry not only reveals the essence of the present and the "laws according to which present things ought to be ordered", but can see "the future in the present" as well. "Poets, according to the circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared, were called, in the earlier epochs of the world, legislators, or prophets: a poet essentially comprises and unites both these characters," [9] the author proudly states. Speaking about the literary tradition of prophecy, the attention should also be paid to the "senseless", but providential speech of the fools. The sources of this attitude come from the ancient times, when human memory, consciousness was something like ‘taboo’. They saw a glimmer of ‘divine’ madness in insane persons and fools, and considered the latter as some kind of prophets. [10] .

In the culmination moment of the action in Shakespeare’s tragedy "King Lear" the Fool heralds wonderful future to England, adding that this prophecy will be made by Merlin, "for I live before his time". In this speech, Lear’s Fool indirectly lists numerous disasters of his country, including economical, social, and moral problems. Thus, the world will set right and become normal. These thoughts of Shakespeare’s Fool may be compared with the statements of another hero. Archy, the character of Shelley’s drama "Charles The First", as well as Lear’s Fool, uses the image of the legendary wizard to confirm his prophecies – downfall of inhuman monarchic rule and foundation of republic in England. Archy says "Merlin’s prophecy" before the king and his suite about approaching wandering of three poets, who will sail from their native land in brainless skull during whitethorn’s blossoming, and, after rounding the world, "come back again when the moon is at full". After that they "in spite of the Church, They will hear homilies of whatever length Or form they please". In this prophecy, Shelley hinted, first of all, at the fact that the English Civil War will be supported by the Puritan poets (John Milton, Andrew Marvell, George Wither), which made instructive trips all over the world in their time.

In the prophecy, the poets will start their long way "when the whitethorn is full". The image of whitethorn in literature is very important and has the long tradition of existence in poetry. In Shelley’s favourite drama ("King Lear"), Edgar first appears as Poor Tom, singing the disturbing folk song starting with the words about hawthorn: "Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind" (III, IV, line 49). All prickly bushes, including hawthorn, were associated in European literature with suffering of Christ and a crown of thorns. The name of the flower "whitethorn" (or "hawthorn") consists of two roots: "white" and "thorn", while "thorny" means difficult, unpleasant. Therefore, the way of poets in Archy’s prophecy is deliberately thorny; it is dangerous, but must lead to general happiness or, at least, to the attempt to establish harmony on earth. It is also indicated by the blossoming hawthorn of the prophecy as opposed to the frosty hawthorn in the cold wind in the song of the Poor Tom. For a reason, before this episode, Archy states that revolutionaries left England in order to find "A commonwealth like Gonzalo's in the play, /Gynaecocoenic and pantisocratic" (scene II, line 364). There is no doubt that these words indicate the reference to Shakespeare’s comedy "Tempest".

Both the dramas of Shakespeare and Shelley single out the moral idea, without which the human life would be empty. Circumstances can destroy a hero, but with his death, he affirms the triumph of moral principles. The providential function of Merlin confirming the idea of the triumph of justice is concordant with this conclusion. Punishment of wicked heroes in the writers’ dramas is often predetermined, which proves the fatal, suprapersonal nature of History. At the same time, both writers agree with the fact that fidelity, devotion to the duty (the words of Cordelia about her love to father, which king Lear understood wrongly, should be mentioned here) characterizes a person better proving the high level of his moral principles. Exactly these people capable of love and sympathy will be rewarded by the highest forces in the end. According to the English writers, the divine justice is true and must triumph; but in Shelley’s romantic consciousness, as opposed to Shakespeare, its coming is correlated with utopian motives and with reconstitution of earthly paradise in the works, and sometimes with the hope for heavenly paradise.

2.2. Time and space in Shakespeare’s and Shelley’s drama

In the first act of Shelley’s drama "Prometheus Unbound", the poet addresses himself to readers with the note: "Night. During the Scene morning slowly breaks". In this case, the author uses the symbolic signs of time: night is usually associated with something mysterious, dangerous and unpleasant; it is often connected with some ordeals, difficulties, while down is the time of renewal and gladness. This expectation of a reader is proved in the text with description of terrible tortures of Prometheus performed by furies – daughters of Night, and with his firm, unshakeable confidence in the fact that there will be "crawling hours" when "cruel King" (Jupiter) dies. Representatives of romanticism and sentimentalism in literature the most often admired nighttime considering it mysterious and favourable for solitary reflections (Edward Young "Night Thoughts", Novalis "Hymns to the Night"). However, Shelley, as opposed to other romanticist, treats the night as dark, gloomy time, when night starts to have the special influence. But these symbolic signs are endowed with the new meaning as well: in the end of the first act of "Prometheus Unbound", when the furies torture the hero with terrible apparitions, the Chorus says: "Where the night has its grave and the morning its birth". At the same time, the motive of the magic force of dawn recurring in many works from different epochs appears in this text as well, a little later though.

Significant is the phrase of the Earth said to chained Prometheus: "To cheer thy state / I bid ascend those subtle and fair spirits… / Its world-surrounding aether: they behold / Beyond that twilight realm, as in a glass / The future" [11] . The symbolic name of the "twilight realm" is given to the time of Jupiter’s tyrannical rule. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, the same association appears several times in connection with the period of Macbeth’s reign. In this case, the connection between Shelley’s dramas and Shakespeare’s tragedies may be definitely indicated: in the essay "A Defence of Poetry", Shelley characterized the gloomy epoch of the Middle Ages with the help of quotation from Shakespeare: "Light seems to thicken" and "The crow makes wing to the rocky wood, / Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, / And night’s black agents to their preys do rouse." ("Macbeth", III, 2) [12] . It is necessary to pay attention to the following dialogue in the play "Prometheus Unbound":


Oh Spirit! pause, and tell whence is the light

Which fills this cloud? the sun is yet unrisen.


The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo

Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light

Which fills this vapour, as the aereal hue

Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water,

Flows from thy mighty sister. [13] 

Then Panthea tells how the love of newborn Asia to people around her illuminated the world brighter than the sunlight; however, sadness of human soul darkened this light. It is important to note the belief of Panthea in the fact that sadness is able to create eclipse, to hide the friendly sun from human eyes. The similar device to express measureless grief is used by Shakespeare as well in "Romeo and Juliet" tragedy, when the Prince makes the final speech: "A glooming peace this morning with it brings; / The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head". This Prince’s statement is concordant with the opinion of the lieutenant of the Tower in "Richard III" chronicles: "Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours, Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night" (I, 4). Besides, the main heroine of Shelley’s drama (Asia) finds in herself not only the features of Venus (place of birth – a shell in "crystal" waters of Aegean Sea), but of the dawn. Thus, the author, apparently, wanted to show the permanent importance of time connected with sunrise. Even the name – Asia – is associated in the conscious of each person with the East (spatio-temporal associations appear), and, therefore, with the dawn, appearing of sun and hope. Consequently, it is appropriate to mention here that Asia compares Prometheus with the star of day: "Prometheus shall arise / Henceforth the sun of this rejoicing world" (II, 4).

Macbeth in Shakespeare’s tragedy has the symbolic meaning, which is absolutely opposite as compared with Prometheus, but similar when compared with the image of Jupiter. The images accompanying another time, the night, which reveals to readers the atmosphere of the general fear, unpunished crimes and lies, are connected with him. In the culmination moment of the action, when the ghost of Banquo comes to Macbeth during the feast, the hero says the significant words about the fact that blood requires blood in the "night". Lady Macbeth answers this: "Almost at odds with morning, which is which". The time of Macbeth’s rule (as well as the time of Jupiter’s rule in Shelley’s drama) is many times called by the heroes of the play as the reign, or the triumph of night: for example, in the third scene of act four, Malcolm, the legal heir to the Scottish throne, says the phrase before the fight with the killer of his father and usurper of the throne: "Macbeth / Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above / Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may: / The night is long that never finds the day" [14] .

It should be noted that the researcher J. Hogle paid attention to the similar feature of artistic time in the poem "The Revolt of Islam". The literary critic analyses the moment when heroes save themselves from fire and appear in the temple in detail. The researcher considers that this episode "allows all hopeful inhabitants of this present "dark night of things" to look ahead toward "an eternal morning" due to reappear some day in an existence newly perceive" [15] . Thus, Hogle is sure that time periods (morning, day and night) are symbolic in Shelley’s poem, and are associated with moral aim of humanity to follow one or another way of development.

In "Hellas" drama, the whole action happens during a day, when the beginning of the play takes place at sunset, and in the end Semichuroses represent indeterminate time of twilight: "The weak day is dead,/ But the night is not born" (1034-1035). D. Reiman quite clearly explains the specificity of time in the drama: "This closing of the presumably unsuccessful day’s struggle of the Greeks for their political independence is likened to "the sunset of hope" presided over by Hesperus that will, in time and through mutability, yield a new morning..." [16] . Symbolism of spans in Shelley’s drama is confirmed by the grand chorus of captive Greek women saying about "the great morning of the world", when Hellas was a free state, and about the falling night of slavery ("Hellas", 46-93). At the same time, the author, with the help of the Chorus, leads readers to the life-asserting finale and utopian future of the first drama – "Prometheus Unbound". Shakespeare also uses the device of symbolic time. For example, the beginnings of the first and the fifth acts of "Othello" tragedy take place on the background of the dark night symbolizing evil deeds of the slanderer.

One of the peculiarities of the artistic time of "Prometheus Unbound" is its multidimentional nature, or different points of view of characters to time, using of different time layers (the present, the past and the future). It may be seen from the following example. When in the first act Mercury comes to Titan in order to bring evil furies, he once again tries to persuade rebellious prophet to reveal the secret of Jupiter’s death. The ruler’s messenger chooses the following argument as the main one:

But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in strife

Against the Omnipotent; as yon clear lamps

That measure and divide the weary years

From which there is no refuge, long have taught

And long must teach. [17] 

As we see, Mercury speaks about invariability of sun and moon as a sign of endlessness of the reign of Olympus’ ruler, that is why, according to his opinion, there is no sense to resist what is endless: both time, alternation of day and night, and the power of Jupiter; and the wisest way is to defect to the enemy. But exactly his own understanding of the vector of time does not allow Prometheus to accept the indicated course of events: "I wait, /Enduring thus, the retributive hour/ Which since we spake is even nearer now" (405-407). The special attitude to time emerges in the text: Prometheus sees the future and knows that the time of downfall of the cruel ruler will come, and this thought helps the hero to endure all difficulties of the present. The similar view of the world is peculiar to the main hero of Shakespeare’s tragedy "Hamlet" as well. First, Hamlet, as well as Prometheus, sees the abundance of vice of the modern world, which he describes in detail in his monologues, for example: "O God! God! / How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, / Seem to me all the uses of this world!".

Second, Hamlet wants to administer justice to usurper of the throne, cruel and omnipotent murderer. The hero is sure that he came to this world for some purpose; he considers the main his task is to correct "dislocated" time by his own hands: "The time is out of joint. О cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right!" (II, 5). Prometheus also thinks about revenge for human suffering, but he does not want to shed the blood of the hated tyrant. However, both heroes show discrepancy in thoughts and actions. Thus, Hamlet, having already decided to perform the planned act, abandons it because of unsuitable situation: his enemy prays that moment, and this means that he directs his thoughts to God. On the contrary, the hero is going to take vengeance on the murderer during the feast, at a moment of depraved, sinful actions. Hamlet thinks as follows:

He took my father grossly, full of bread;

With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;

And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?

But in our circumstance and course of thought,

'Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,

To take him in the purging of his soul,

When he is fit and season'd for his passage?


Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:

When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,

Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;

At gaming, swearing, or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in't;

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,

And that his soul may be as damn'd and black

As hell, whereto it goes. [18] 

It is amazing, but exactly in this situation described by Hamlet in the third scene of the third act of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Jupiter, the hero of Shelley’s lyrical drama, was slain. Though retribution was exercised not by Prometheus, but by Demogorgon, who, answering the question "what art thou?" said clearly and laconically "Eternity". According to the opinion of Leonid Pinsky, the unexpected dénouement of "Hamlet" was also prepared by omnipotent time, proving not only madness, but also eternal "fatal justice of the whole" [19] . In Shelley’s drama, as well as in Hamlet’s monologue, the powerful ruler of Olympus, exactly during the noisy and cheerful feast ("Drink! be the nectar circling through your veins / The soul of joy, ye ever-living Gods…"), in passionate condition, finds himself dethroned by his own son. The tyrant remains true to his nature and goes to the "shoreless sea" calling down curses: "And whelm on them into the bottomless void / This desolated world". But then he understands that the elements no longer "obey me not". From this moment, the whole world living in Shelley’s work according to the laws of the Great Chain of Being, starts to change and become more beautiful.

In connection with the problem of artistic time, it is necessary to note that in Shelley’s dramas "Prometheus Unbound" and "Hellas", the interesting references to the statement of Macbeth about the transparent "future" of time in the chain of never-ending, inexplicable events, which make up only senseless "sound and fury". The conflicting opinions of Shakespeare’s king are the response to the sudden message about the death of his determined wife, that is why Macbeth makes the extremely gloomy conclusions about the purpose of human existence:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death (V, 5, line 19-23)

Shelley’s lyric poetry has several echoes of the indicated words of Macbeth: in the poem of 1821 "To-Morrow", the hero complains of the fact that the desired ghost of tomorrow evades people all the time like a shadow (Later Macbeth also says that human life is just "a walking shadow"). It is affirmed in Shelley’s poem that a person looks for a smile of tomorrow on the way of "foggy" life in vain, as he will always encounter only sad today.

It is seen from the example of this poem how great was the influence of Shakespeare in Shelley’s works, and how deeply and comprehensively (with Christian subtext) the romanticist understood the dramatist. In the poem "Remembrance" (1821), the romantic hero many times says the word "tomorrow", although he understands senselessness of any human hopes ("My heart each day desires the morrow"). The image of "dusty death" as a metaphor of hopeless future, senseless human existence (open by Macbeth) may be found in the second stanza of Shelley’s poem "When a lover clasps his fairest" (1819):

When a mother clasps her child,

Watch till dusty Death has piled

His cold ashes on the clay;

She has loved it many a day--

She remains,--it fades away.

In the poem, as well as in Shakespeare’s tragedy, a metaphor of the sad end of life appears in response to thoughts about the loss of close friend, beloved or child by a person.

The researches often note the conditional character, symbolism of the place of action in the works of Shakespeare and Shelley. Shelley includes the specific living details, especially home environment in his narration extremely rarely; abstract and philosophical imagery is rather peculiar to his poetic works. Nevertheless, it definitely may be stated that several city realias are mentioned in the works of English romanticist. One of them should be indicated, and on the whole, it is a fundamentally important locus of city culture – the image of a prison. This construction is significant for a reason, as, to some extent, it (together with the territories of palace and temple) determined social, economic and moral laws of its time.

The motive of Tower – the worst prison in the world – is repeated in Shakespeare’s chronicles. In "Richard II" play, the fifth scene of the fifth act takes place in the dungeon. In Shelley’s poem "The Revolt of Islam", exactly this word is used to determine the whole surrounding world seen by "men of spirit". A metaphor of Homeland (and wider – the world) – a prison develops in Shakespeare’s tragedy "Hamlet" and in unfinished Shelley’s play "Charles The First". Finally, in "The Winter's Tale", the king Leontes accuses his wife of crimes, which she did not commit, the motive used by Shakespeare in the plays "Othello", "Cymbeline", which also may be found in Shelley’s drama "Oedipus Tyrannus", and subjects the innocent queen to arrest and court. A lot of similar examples may be given, as a prison is mentioned in works of the authors under research many times.

However, especially striking is the image of the main heroine on the background of the prison in the gloomiest drama of Shelly "The Cenci". Gentle and meek Beatrice endures sufferings courageously: first, she suffers from the cruel tyranny of her father for a long time, and then she firmly bears accusations of the Inquisition. However, the extremely aggravated circumstances bring the heroine to the insane ravings and reach their culmination in the fifth act. "We must die: / Since such is the reward of innocent lives," Beatrice thinks in her prison cell. Exactly in the unbearable conditions of prison, the heroine says the most significant monologues about the tragedy of human fate in the modern life. Among Shakespeare’s plays, the image of prison is undoubtedly the most significant in "King Lear" mentioned by Shelley in the preface to "The Chenci".

Shelley’s lyric poetry also depicts rejection of cruel reality conditionally indicated as a prison. The poem "To a friend released from prison" (1817) was written with the feeling of love and friendly sympathy. The hero of the fragment thanks a person sacrificing his freedom and emphasizes that he, a prisoner, on the contrary, loves freedom with all his heart and wishes it to all people.

The image of prison for Shelley is the topos creating certain atmosphere in order to show the display of heroic origin in a character. This image is the symbol of existing world with its violence depriving a person of freedom. The characters of both English writers (both Shakespeare and Shelley) open the free spirit, force, ability to insight in themselves exactly in prisons: for example, in thoughts about fate and world, in interesting philosophic generalizations. In this point, it is possible to compare the works "The Revolt of Islam", "Rosalind and Helen", "Prometheus Unbound", "The Cenci" on the one part, and "Measure for Measure", "King Lear", "Cymbeline" on the other. Besides, exactly the dark, restricted and solitary space may serve as the decisive stage of a trial, as well as spiritual rise of a hero.

In general, both a cave and a prison in the works of the authors under research are characterized by the known ambivalence: they may be at the same time the symbol of dark, enslaved reality and the space, where brave hopes, dreams of heroes, or their mission may come true (either in imagination, or in reality), as it was displayed in the range of analyzed works. A prison and a cave obtain in the artistic world of English writers the important sacral meaning, when, in one of this spaces, heroes start to see the future and to meet the past, and in another one, accordingly, they find in them the ability to change the present. At the same time, as opposed to Shakespeare, Shelley’s prison is often depicted as the important stage of human life, the place of suffering and feat. Besides, in the mythological drama of Shelley, the opposition of temporal symbols ‘night/day’ – ‘the past/the future’ corresponds (due to architectonics of the play) to spatial components of city culture: prison/temple. As the result, the progressive advance of "Prometheus Unbound" play overcomes the transient change of modern times and reaches the level of absolutely harmonious Eternity.

It is possible to make the conclusion that some characters of Shakespeare and Shelley think about how to change terrible, unfair world turned into the place of human sufferings with the tyranny of one ruler (Macbeth, Claudius; Jupiter, Mahmud, Charles The First). The reign of such a dissolute and cruel villain is often compared with the triumph of night. Nevertheless, the devotion to own ideals and principles peculiar to such heroes as Cordelia, Prometheus, Beatrice, is awarded with their victory over evil forces in the end, if not material, then, at least, the moral one. The ability of these heroes to love and compassionate allows them to unite in the end and present a hope for happiness to their close people. Thus, drama comes to its logical end only after the restoration of "divine justice", after a certain poetic retribution. At the same time, the category of Historical time in the greatest plays of Shakespeare and Shelley ("Hamlet", "Prometheus Unbound", "The Chenci") first comes to the foreground, and then disappears giving place to timeless space. Abstractness and symbolism of the analyzed toposes strengthens the permanent artistic significance of Shelley’s works, the content of which confirms the influence of Shakespeare on English romantic literature.

2.3. Dreams and their significance in the vision of Shakespeare and Shelley

Shakespeare’s composition devices and artistic images are the integral part of plays of Percy Bysshe Shelley. If analyze thoroughly, it is possible to find great number of common features in, for example, Shelley’s "Prometheus Unbound" and Shakespeare’s "The Tempest". The Poetic atmosphere emphasized with use of mythological and fantastic images is accompanied in these plays with the philosophical thoughts about social and moral problems of humanity. Thus, the best means to transform artistic world in these dramatic works are scientific knowledge, dreams and magic. In the article "On Life" of 1819 ("Prometheus Unbound" play was written the same year), Shelley confesses that "I am one of those who am unable to refuse my assent to the conclusions of those philosophers who assert that nothing exists but as it is perceived. It is a decision against which all our persuasions struggle, and we must be long convicted before we can be convinced that the solid universe of external things is "such stuff as dreams are made of."" [20] . This quotation confirming non-realistic, inspired understanding of reality, called by Shelley as intellectual philosophical system, refers a reader to Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" (IV, 1, lines 171-172). This quite famous Shakespeare’s line may be also encountered in the preface to Shelley’s elegy "Adonais". The particular attention should be paid to the compositional and semantic significance of the mentioned statement in Shakespeare’s play. In "The Tempest" play, Prospero hopes to lead his country to prosperity with the help of mercy; at the same time, there are often doubts and sadness in his words. They are the most strongly pronounced in two episodes: in the final monologue and in the dialogue of Prospero and Ferdinand about the fact that life is a dream.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself…

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep… [21] 

Shakespeare’s wise man in this statement admits that human life is short and illusive, like a dream. The most important idea of the monologue is, apparently, the one singled out by Shelley in his philosophical essays "On Life". Shakespeare, as well as many other writers of Renaissance, endows dreams with special, symbolic meaning, which complicates the metaphor "life is a dream" even more. The great dramatist say that the whole world around us is a beautiful, but, unfortunately, short dream. The similar understanding of dream was peculiar to many writers of the late Middle Ages and subsequent period, especially to representatives of Baroque (P. Calderón, F. de Quevedo). And this means that it is necessary to speak not only about influence of Shakespeare on Shelley, but, perhaps, about typological similarity of ideas, motives and images. Similarity of Shakespeare’s thoughts about the world to the monologues of Shelley’s characters is apparent in thoughts of Ahasuerus in the lyrical drama "Hellas", resembling the speech of Prospero. This hero says to the Turkish tyrant Mahmud oppressing Greek people that all phenomena of life exist only in our consciousness, that is why it is simple to understand the future and lead it out of the past; under the changeability of external factors, only "Thought / Alone, and its quick elements, Will, Passion, / Reason, Imagination, cannot die" [22] .

But look on that which cannot change--the One,

The unborn and the undying. Earth and ocean,

Space, and the isles of life or light that gem

The sapphire floods of interstellar air,

This firmament pavilioned upon chaos,

With all its cressets of immortal fire,

Whose outwall, bastioned impregnably

Against the escape of boldest thoughts, repels them

As Calpe the Atlantic clouds--this Whole

Of suns, and worlds, and men, and beasts, and flowers,

With all the silent or tempestuous workings

By which they have been, are, or cease to be,

Is but a vision;--all that it inherits

Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles and dreams;

Thought is its cradle and its grave, nor less

The Future and the Past are idle shadows

Of thought's eternal flight--they have no being:

Nought is but that which feels itself to be. [23] 

Similarity of the monologue of Ahasuerus to the sudden insight of Prospero in "The Tempest" was also noticed by the English researcher D. Reiman in the monograph of 1976 "Percy Bysshe Shelley" [24] . Reiman states that the whole dialogue of Mahmud and Ahasuerus, and later with the phantom of Mahomet II, depicting the past conquests of Islam and its future defeats, is the echo of the speech of Shakespeare’s wise man about illusiveness of the world. Lines 738-939 of "Hellas" (starting with words "But raised above thy fellow-men/ By thought, as I by power", and ending with "eat, drink, and die!"), thus, contain the allusion to the motive from the comedy "The Tempest". If Prospero considers all things and phenomena around him as a short dream, than Ahasuerus states that only thoughts and human knowledge are real in life. Mahmud sees in reality, like in dream, the terrible consequences of the forthcoming war and destructions; by the end of the play, he understands the haziness, illusiveness of the universe indicated many times by Ahasuerus, doomed to immortality. At the same time, Ahasuerus obtains the features of wise philosopher Prospero, and the first semichorus resembles the urge towards freedom and rhythmic picture of some song stanzas with Ariel ("Hellas", 648-670; "The Tempest", V, 1, 88-94).

At the same time, queen Henrietta in "Charles The First" drama says the words being the allusion to the indicated monologue of Prospero. The English queen speaking with her husband urgently advises him to immediately stop any calls to change the state system: "This do, lest we/ Should fall as from a glorious pinnacle/ In a bright dream, and wake as from a dream /Out of our worshipped state (scene 2, 131-134") [25] . Thus, the queen, following Prospero, admits fleetingness and short duration of earthly power resembling a dream. The poem "The Sensitive Plant" (1820) written by the romanticist a year before "Hellas" ends with the meaningful conclusion saying: "nothing is, but all things seem, /And we the shadows of the dream" (124-125), which was proved with confidence by Rosencrantz in the dialogue with Hamlet. It is affirmed in the poem: "It is a modest creed, and yet, / Pleasant if one considers it, / To own that death itself must be, / Like all the rest, a mockery" [26] (126-130).

However, Shakespeare’s university "friend" and the former ally of the Danish prince affirmed that only the ambitious people, as he calls Hamlet, become the shadows of dreams; and the main hero answered this as follows: "Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and /outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows" [27] . Interesting that the analyzed metaphor was even more complicated in "The Sensitive Plant" poem obtaining philosophical shade: the English romanticist confesses that he considers that even death is illusory, unreal, and fabulous, as it is, like life, a delusion, mirage and "dream" (allusion to the monologue of Hamlet about life and death). At the same time, recurrence and cycle of seasons correspond in the indicated poem of Shelley to constant and inevitable change of social and political establishments. The world of nature and the world of people are connected with each other inseparably by thousands of invisible threads, as they make together the powerful chain of life-dream. However, Shelley always not just agreed with Shakespeare’s ideas, but developed them his own way: in "Adonais" poem (stanzas 39-40), the idea of Prospero is subject to revision, and the end of life of the great creator appears to be not the new dream, but the long-awaited awakening from the life dream ("he is not dead, he doth not sleep- He hath awakened from the dream of life", lines 343-344). In the end, only the died poet (John Keats) seems to the author real and deserving glorification.

For Shakespeare and Shelley, dream as some life phenomenon was not just a fantasy, imagination, a balm for tired hearts, but also a hint opening the distant Truth to people. A dream may perform providential function in dramatic work. For example, Cenci, before the "eternal" dream, is sure in calmness, imperturbability and serenity of his rest. He argues with conscience affirming that it is deceitful by nature and cannot deprive a heartless person of healthy, relieving dream. However, the refutation of these words is, first of all, the metaphor of "heaviness of sleep" in his speech. Later this metaphor will be confirmed by the words of Lucretia about the fact that she had added opium into the count’s drink. And Beatrice says with confidence that "his death will be / But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, / A dark continuance of the Hell within him, / Which God extinguish!" (IV, 2). As the result, Olimpio and Marzio commit the hard retribution during the sleep of the criminal tyrant.

Beatrice, on the contrary, falls asleep peacefully even in prison and, according to Bernardo’s words, her breath is light "Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent / Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged." (V, 3) Waking up, Beatrice confesses that she saw heavenly life in her dreams. Thus, Shelley gives us to understand what side the truth and the justice take: heaven sends wonderful and light dreams only to innocent, spiritually pure people. This feature of drama may be found in Shakespeare’s works as well: the similar contrast dreams are represented in the end of his historical chronicles "Richard III". The fighter for truth, Richmond states in his address to the warriors: "If you do sweat to put a tyrant down, / You sleep in peace" (this statement is concordant with the "heavenly" dream of Beatrice), and the commander himself sees the beautiful dream betokening victory. Gloucester, as opposed to Richmond, sees terrible nightmares, betokening his death. These dreams cause perturbation and terror in hero’s insidious soul, but he decides to fight to the end. His speech to soldiers ends with the maxim similar to Cenci’s last words; he connects the concept of dream with the motive of human conscience, which he does not accept: "Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls: / Conscience is but a word that cowards use" (V, 3). Like Cenci, Richard does not believe in the force of conscience, which is able to drive away happy dreams or determine the result of a battle. Images appearing in Gloucester’s speech before the battle "reflect the main thing in his world outlook, which is the belief in the fact that force rules in the world" [28] . However, this world view is disproved by Shakespeare, including with the help of contrast dreams. It is noteworthy that Lady Macbeth loses her sleep forever as punishment for help in bloody crime.

At the same time, the hero of "Hellas" play, Mahmud, appears on the stage for the first time complaining about terrible dreams in his sleep (lines 128-129). This drama also has combination of the motives of tyrannical dream and sleeping conscience; in the exposition, the Chorus addressing itself to the Indian slave says: "When Conscience lulls her sated snake, / And Tyrants sleep, let Freedom wake" (lines 29-30). And the call sounds definitely as the chorus refuses to help Conscience to lull cruel tyrants of "the frozen earth". Shakespeare’s tyrant Macbeth, according to his own words, does murder "the innocent sleep", while the archbishop Laud in Shelley’s historical drama "Charles The First" accuses Scottish rebels of the fact that they may break "the innocent sleep / Of templed cities and the smiling fields" [29] . In this case, sleep symbolizes not only rest, remedy for human hearts, but also the beautiful dream, idealized reality, hope for happy, peaceful life as understood by the high-ranking priest.

It is possible to find reasoning about the importance of dreams in Shelley’s article "Speculations on Metaphysics" [30] . In his literary works, the poet often used the motive of symbolic dream in order to express his vision of public relations in human world. The plot-forming, compositional and metaphorical importance of dreams is great in the poems "Queen Mab", "The Mask of Anarchy", and "The Triumph of Life".

It is possible to make another one interesting comparison on the topic of dream. For this purpose, it is necessary to recall how in Shelley’s drama, Prometheus, being immortal, starts to think about death as an eternal dream because he was chained to the rock and was not able to help suffering humanity, and, thus, cannot do his duty as he sees it (I, 807-820):

How fair these airborn shapes! and yet I feel

Most vain all hope but love; and thou art far,

Asia! who, when my being overflowed,

Wert like a golden chalice to bright wine

Which else had sunk into the thirsty dust.

All things are still: alas! how heavily

This quiet morning weighs upon my heart;

Though I should dream I could even sleep with grief

If slumber were denied not. I would fain

Be what it is my destiny to be,

The saviour and the strength of suffering man,

Or sink into the original gulf of things:

There is no agony, and no solace left;

Earth can console, Heaven can torment no more. [31] 

Eternal dream is understood in this "sonnet" statement as some kind of temptation, possibility to escape from sufferings made by Jupiter to freedom-loving, merciful Prometheus for his rebelliousness and moral firmness. The main hero of the drama suffers watching on human miseries from the rock, but refuses to sleep, finds the constant and inviolable support in life, which helps him to cope with any misfortune; it is human love to each other, their friendship and mutual support; Panthea consoling the hero confirms this thought. Another way, but with the same doubts and alarms, Hamlet also builds his famous monologue. The reasoning of this hero were often quoted in different Shelley’s works (Hampden’s monologue in the fifth scene of "Charles The First"), as well as in letters and essays (for example, in the article "On Life"). The main part of reasoning starting with the words "To be, or not to be", is devoted to the attempt to explain the conflict of human existence. The hero thinks why people oppressed by different troubles, problems and works do not hurry to hasten "liberation" from earthly troubles, and end "The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks": "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, / The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely… / When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, / To grunt and sweat under a weary life".

The hero, as well as Shelley’s Prometheus later, thinks about dreams or visions, which a person, who fell asleep forever, may see. As the result, Hamlet makes the unfavourable conclusion about the fact that only thoughts about the consequences of brave and decisive actions keep a person from them; and the fear before uncertainty keeps him from suicide. It is noteworthy and deserving mentioning here that immediately after this monologue, Hamlet starts the dialogue with the beloved: "The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons / Be all my sins remember'd". These words assuage a little the straightforwardness and sturdiness of thoughts of the Danish prince about the world and approaches his speech to the words of Prometheus about the fact that all hopes and supports may be vain and delusive except the one – true and real love. In contrast to the indicated examples, in the fourth scene of the fifth act of "The Cenci" tragedy, Beatrice desperately thinks about death not as about salvation, but as about possibility of eternal sufferings and tortures endured by her on earth: "Who ever yet returned / To teach the laws of Death's untrodden realm? / Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now, / Oh, whither, whither?" (V, 4, 72-74). Answering this, her kind and caring stepmother Lucretia says the calming words about soul’s humility and heavenly life promised by Christ. Thus, again after the sad thoughts of a character about eternal sleep, as well as in Shakespeare’s tragedy "Hamlet" and in Shelley’s mythological drama, the hope for better fate and the beloved person’s consolation appears.

It also should be noted that the lyric drama "Prometheus Unbound" has the character named Dream, who becomes the guide of the main heroine. Therefore, the motive of the symbolic "daydream" in this play is very important: it emphasizes the continuation of Shakespeare’s tradition and, at the same time, opens the author’s attitude to the real world and main characters (Beatrice’s song and Romeo’s last words in the dialogue of main heroes in Shakespeare’s tragedy "Romeo and Juliet", I, 2, should be mentioned here).

Important is that magic forces embodying the good in Shelley’s romantic plays are able to resist both injustice and tyranny of rulers on earth. For example, in "Prometheus Unbound", Shelley endows Demogorgon, the son of the ruler of Olympus, with miraculous omnipotence in order to release Prometheus and other characters from the necessity to use force for the removal of cruel Jupiter. As R.G. Woodman noted, the difference between the dramas of Shakespeare and Shelley is in the fact that Prospero uses magic for personal, destructive and, to some extent, unjustified revenge, as well as for the use of the forces of the other world (Ariel, Caliban) for mercenary ends. Prometheus, on the contrary, during thousand years of tortures and sufferings on the rock comes to understanding of senselessness of bloody revenge, as the real, heavenly retribution shall oppose the force of magic to evil [32] . "Prospero therofore thought it necessary to drown his book as a kind of baptism releasing him from the sin of its grip upon him" [33] .

Therefore, it is possible to state with a certain confidence that Shelley, creating "Prometheus Unbound" play, remembered about Shakespeare’s late tragicomedy, the main ideas of which were forgiveness and wise mercy displayed by the main hero towards his enemies. In his first drama, Shelley tries to direct a reader at "transformation of the world" due to symbolic visions, philosophical reasoning of heroes about time, and about the beauty of natural and mythological images. At the same time, Shelley confirms his non-materialistic understanding of reality with allusion to the famous monologue of Prospero about the dream-world. This reasoning became the basis for Ahaseurus’ speech in "Hellas" drama, its echoes may be found in "The Sensitive Plant" poem and in "Charles The First" drama. With the significance of dreams in the age of Romanticism, due to their unique ability to reflect phenomena of the ideal world, dream, like a remedy, a balm for tired hearts, is the important Shakespeare’s metaphor. The providential function of sleep is revealed in the contrast dreams of heroes, as well as in nightmares, insomnia of villains both in the works of Shakespeare and Shelley ("The Cenci", "Hellas"). Indisputable conformity in ideological and structural and subject aspects may be seen between the famous monologue of Hamlet, the words of Prometheus about his hard destination (I, 807-820), and the speech of Beatrice about possibility of posthumous sufferings (V, 4, 72-74). The second act of "Prometheus Unbound" depicts the bucolic and ideological understanding of prophetic dreams by two brave sisters, which corresponds to some motives of Shakespeare’s early comedies.

At the same time, both the main characters of Shakespeare’s play "The Tempest", and Shelley’s first drama are represented as wise men, who decided to transform the world with the help of magic, to make it closer to ideal. However, unlike the dramatist of Renaissance, the romanticist does not rule out a heavy struggle for human freedom and happiness represented in the form of conventional battle between snake and eagle. Thus, the allegoric form of narration is very important in "Prometheus Unbound" play. While metaphor, which is able to reflect the world of people with its complexity, diversity and completeness, always remains Shakespeare’s favourite device. Allegoric images reminding of conditional character of people’s views of that time (masks, morality plays) sometimes appear in Shakespeare’s theatre. But similar devices in Shakespeare’s works are less important in comparison with metaphors.