The philosophical tragedy Manfred, which became the debut of Byron-playwright, is perhaps the most profound and significant (along with the mystery “Cain”, 1821) from the poet’s works in the dialogic genre, with good reason is considered the apotheosis of Byron’s pessimism. The writer’s disagreeable 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 “world sorrow” on the dramatic poem ( skeptical of the achievements of the contemporary English theater, Byron more than once stressed that he was writing it for reading)
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 the mysteries of the Wonderful and all earthly wisdom – / I have learned everything, and everything has comprehended my mind: What is the use of that?” – Anchorite-sorcerer, who has lost confidence in the values of intelligence, frightens servants and commoners with his unsociable way of life. The only thing that the weary feudal lord tired of looking for and disappointed and endowed with the mysterious knowledge of the beyond the hermit is the end, oblivion. Desperate to find it, it causes spirits of different elements: ether, mountains, seas, earth depths, winds and storms, darkness and night – and asks to give him oblivion. “Oblivion is unknown immortal,” – answers one of the spirits; they are powerless. Then Manfred asks one of them, incorporeal, to take that visible image, “which is more decent for him.” And the seventh spirit, the spirit of Destiny, appears to him in the guise of a beautiful woman. Having recognized the dear traits of a lost lover forever, Manfred falls unconscious.
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: “Do you think that our life depends on time? Quickly – from ourselves, Life for me is a vast desert, Barren 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…
From a youth stranger, he sought quenching in nature, “in the struggle with the waves of the noisy mountain rivers Il 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 even for a moment again to see his beloved,
“Fairy: I am 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 the close to the fall made The mad fools, the fools – the sages, The oracles, so that people bow before their power and that none of the mortals Dare to decide the fate of their lords And to interpret arrogantly about freedom… “Together with the emerging Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, they are sent to the palace of Ahriman,
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 are immortal, like ours, knowledge, will and power, because it is compatible with mortal dust, such are, That the ashes are marveling at him, he aspires Soul away from the world and comprehended What only we, the immortals, realized: That in knowledge there is no happiness, that science is the Exchange of 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 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;” Whoever wants a nonentity to recognize Him as their master, He must Be able to humble himself before nothingness, Everywhere to penetrate and keep up And be a walking lie. “I did not want to interfere with the herd, at least I could be a leader.” The lion is lonely, I too. ” 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 being in the world that he loved, which, of course, did not explain the relationship…” Their conversation is interrupted by the abbot demanding so that he was 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 here, but it’s not for you, slave, I’ll give my soul 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 the essential difference between the 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 (“The immortal spirit itself the court creates for good and evil thoughts “).
“Old man, believe me, death is not terrible!” he throws in farewell to the abbot.