Queen Mab Research Paper

3034 Words 13 Pages
Akshat Seth
Prof. Alok Bhalla

Of Diatribes, Revolution and Pacifism
Reflections on the reconcilability of Shelley’s ideas of radical change and pacifism through a look at his first long poem Queen Mab with respect to the socio-political context of the French Revolution and its aftermath.

It is somewhat ironic to state that Shelley, ‘the true child of the revolution’1 was also a pacifist. Ironic, since the very French Revolution which is cited by most as one of the dominant influences on British Romantic literature, was done with its honeymoon period; the republic had been replaced by the First Empire- and more importantly, the revolution had had its fill of innocent lives by the time Shelley began to endorse
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The notes relating to Shelley’s views on religion, polity and vegetarianism suggest a huge influence of his Father-in-law to be, William Godwin. It is acknowledged by most scholars that the radical thinker Godwin whose famous work Political Justice was a landmark in the realm of radical thinking surrounding the events in France, was the ‘evil genius’ prompting Shelley to commit the cardinal sin of vehemently decrying religion and launching a fierce tirade against monarchs and the institution of monarchy- while at the same time weaving dreams of a future free of their influence in Queen Mab. Although there seems to be a general unanimity on this, Albert Hancock in his The French Revolution and the English Poets: A Study in Historical Criticism gives us reason to suppose that before Shelley started his correspondence with Elizabeth Hitchener, a schoolteacher who became his confidante when he prepared the present draft in 1813, he might well have prepared an earlier draft as early as 1809. Hancock offers a Political Justice after all. He cites Mathew Arnold to state …show more content…
Shelley was deeply infected with the same errors. But it is part of the glory of his poetry that in some degree, he anticipated the sentiment of the second half of our (19th) Century, when we desire more to construct or reconstruct, rather than to destroy.10
Indeed, Shelley’s poetry has inspired generations of subaltern movements for change, starting with the Chartists in England. None other than Karl Marx has praised Shelley for pointing out in beautiful verse, what took volumes of Capital for him to analyze. Shelley’s disdain for wealth and private property can clearly be seen in the text thus:
Commerce has set the mark of

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