Prometheus Unbound


Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Prometheus Unbound: Act 2, Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

The Spirit of the Hour takes Asia, Panthea, and the Demogorgon into the heart of a cloud. The Spirit tells Asia that “the sun will not rise until noon” because Apollo “is held in Heaven by wonder.” Panthea turns pale and Asia asks her what she sees. She replies that a change has taken place in Asia, and that Asia has suddenly become so beautiful that Panthea can hardly look at her. The nymphs recognize that some change has taken place in the world and that Asia is “unveiled,” much like the day that Asia rose out of a “veined shell” which drifted on the “crystal ocean” and when Asia used to be known as “love.”
In this passage, Asia is associated with Venus, who was the classical goddess of love. It is implied that Asia used to be called Venus, but that she is no longer known under this title because love has been forgotten in the world. In the European artistic tradition, the birth of Venus is often depicted as her rising out of the ocean in a shell. The idea that Asia has been “unveiled” suggests that Jupiter’s reign has disguised love and foreshadows his fall, when love will be revealed.
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Literary Devices
At first Asia dismisses this change and says that “love is common as light.” Yet when a voice on the air tells Asia that she is shining with the light of love, she feels her soul floating away on a tide of love.
Although love is a common human experience, this does not detract from its extraordinary power. Asia’s transformation suggests that love has the power to elevate and illuminate human life and that, because it is so common, this experience is available to all.
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