The Byron Journal

Byron, Original Sin, Shadows of Death and the Dramas of 1821

The Byron Journal (2015), 43, (1), 29–42.

Abstract

Between the historical tragedy of Marino Faliero (published on 21 April 1821) and Werner (begun 18 December 1821), Byron wrote four dramas: two historical tragedies, The Two Foscari and Sardanapalus; and two mysteries, Cain and Heaven and Earth. This essay explores the ways in which the Ravenna tragedies intone the motifs of original sin and the consequences of the sins of fathers descending to subsequent generations and how, in the mysteries, Byron amplifies these themes in the enigmatic shadow of death in Eden, and the valley of death in Heaven and Earth. The dramas of 1821 incorporate biblical contexts of original sin (Genesis 1–8), the visitation of original sin of the fathers upon the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5), the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), and death itself. Byron’s intensive focus on death and dying in the dramas of 1821 parallels the approach of death in his own life, which occurred less than three years later at the age of thirty-six.1

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Author details

Stevens, Harold Ray