Becoming the debut of Byron-playwright, the philosophical tragedy “Manfred”, perhaps the most profound and significant of the poet’s works in the dialogic genre, is not without reason the apotheosis of Byron’s pessimism. The writer’s distressed dissonance with British society, which ultimately led him to voluntary exile, the inevitably deepening crisis in personal relationships, in which he sometimes inclined to see something fatal predetermined, all this left an indelible imprint of the “world tribulation” on a dramatic poem, in which the most keen of contemporaries – not excluding the great German himself – saw a romantic analogue of Goethe’s “Faust”.
The unpredictable author of Childe Harold, Giaur, and Jewish
The poem opens, like Goethe’s Faust, by summing up preliminary and disappointing results of a long and turbulent life, but not in the face of impending demise, but in the face of a hopelessly dull, not sanctified by a lofty goal and infinitely lonely existence. “Science, philosophy, all mysteries / Wonderful and all earthly wisdom – / I have learned everything, and everything comprehended my mind: / What is the benefit of that?” – Anchorite-sorcerer, who has lost confidence in the values of intelligence, frightens servants and commoners with his unsociable
Lonely wandering on the mountain cliffs in the vicinity of the highest mountain Jungfrau, which is associated with many sinister beliefs, he is greeted by a chamois hunter – meets in a moment when Manfred, sentenced to eternal vegetation, vainly attempts to commit suicide by rushing from the cliff. They enter into conversation; The hunter takes him to his hut. But the guest is gloomy and uncommunicative, and his interlocutor soon realizes that Manfred’s ailment, his thirst for death is by no means a physical property. He does not deny: “You think that our life depends / From time? Quickly – from ourselves, / Life for me is a vast desert, / Bad and wild coast, / Where only the waves moan…”
When he leaves, he takes away with him the source of his unquenchable torment. Only the fairy of the Alps – one of the host of “rulers of the invisible,” whose dazzling image he manages to cause by a spell, standing over a waterfall in the Alpine valley, he can entrust his sad confession…
Since youth, people who were alien to him, he was looking for a quench in nature, “in the fight against the waves of noisy mountain rivers / Ily with the wild surf of the ocean”; driven by the spirit of discovery, he penetrated into the coveted secrets, “that they knew only in antiquity.” In full esoteric knowledge, he managed to penetrate the secrets of invisible worlds and gained power over spirits. But all these spiritual treasures – nothing without a single companion who shared his works and vigils sleepless – Astartes, a girlfriend, his beloved and him, too, ruined. Dreaming at least a moment again to see his beloved, he asks the fairy Alps for help.
“Fairy, I’m powerless over the dead, but if / You swear to me in obedience…” But Manfred, who never bowed his head to anyone, is not capable of this. The fairy disappears. And he – driven by a daring idea, continues his wanderings through the mountain heights and beyond the clouds, where the rulers of the invisible dwell.
We for a while lose Manfred from sight, but we are witnessing a meeting on the summit of Mount Jungfrau of three parrots preparing to appear before the king of all spirits Ahriman. Three ancient deities that control the lives of mortals under Byron’s pen strikingly resemble the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth; and that they tell each other about their own craft, we hear not very typical of the philosophical works of Byron notes of caustic satire. So, one of them “… married fools, / Restored fallen thrones / And strengthened those close to the fall / turned / In the fools of the wise, stupid – in the wise, / In oracles, so that people worship / With their power and that none of the mortals / Did not dare to decide the fate of their rulers / And to interpret arrogantly about freedom… “Together with the emerging Nemesis, the goddess of retribution,
Praises to the lord of the invisible are interrupted by the unexpectedly appearing Manfred. The spirits call on him to prostrate himself in the dust before the supreme lord, but in vain: Manfred is rebellious.
Dissonance in general indignation is introduced by the first of the parks, stating that this audacious mortal is not like any of his despicable tribe: “His sufferings / Immortal, like ours, knowledge, will / And his power, as compatible / All this with perishable It is as if his ashes are astonished, he strove / With the soul away from the world and comprehended / That only we, immortal, comprehended: / That in knowledge there is no happiness, that science is / Sharing some ignorance for others. ” Manfred asks Nemesis to call out of oblivion “in the land unburied – Astarte.”
The ghost appears, but even to the all-powerful Ahriman it is not given to force the vision to speak. And only in response to the passionate, half-mad monologue-call of Manfred responds, pronouncing his name. And then he adds: “You will leave the earth in a wake”. And it dissolves in ether.
At the end of the hour, in the ancient castle, inhabited by an unsociable earl-warlock, the abbot of St. Maurice appears. Alarmed by rumors about the strange and wicked occupations that the owner of the castle is tormented by, he considers it his duty to call him “to be cleansed of repentance by repentance / and to be reconciled with the church and the sky.” “It’s too late,” he hears a laconic response. He, Manfred, does not have a place in the church parish, as among any crowd: “I could not restrain myself, who wants / To command, he must be a slave” / Who wants a nothingness to recognize / His master, he / Must know before nothing to reconcile, / Everywhere to penetrate and keep up / And be a walking lie. “I with the herd / Did not want to get in the way, could at least / Be a leader.” The lion is lonely, so am I. ” Having broken off the conversation, he hastens to retire,
Meanwhile, servants timid before a strange lord remember other days: when, next to the intrepid truth seeker, Astarte was “the only creature in the world / that he loved, which of course / did not explain the relationship…” Their conversation is interrupted by the abbot, demanding that he be urgently sent to Manfred.
Meanwhile, Manfred, alone, calmly waits for a fateful moment. The abbot who enters the room senses the presence of a mighty evil spirit. He tries to spell the spirits, but in vain. “It’s time, mortal, / Resign, Manfred, I knew and I know it’s come. / But it’s not for you, slave, I’ll give my soul.” “Get away from me! I’ll die as I lived, alone.” The proud spirit of Manfred, who does not bow before the authority of any authority, remains unbroken. And if the finale of Byron’s play is really reminiscent of the finale of Goethe’s “Faust”, one can not help but notice a significant difference between two great works: for the soul of Faust, the angels and Mephistopheles fight, while the soul of Byron’s God-defender is defended from the host of invisible Manfred himself.
“Old man, believe me, death is not terrible!” he throws in farewell to the abbot.