Prometheus Unbound


Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Demogorgon Character Analysis

The Demogorgon in Prometheus Unbound is a spirit of the underworld, associated with the realm of night or the world of the dead in pagan mythology. He represents an eternal force in nature which cannot change the course of history but is privy to some secrets of destiny and fate. He is the child of Jupiter and the goddess Thetis, whom Jupiter has raped; the Demogorgon is more powerful than both his parents, as their powers have combined in him. When confronted by Panthea and Asia, who have been led to the underworld by a dream, the Demogorgon reveals that Jupiter, although he reigns supreme over earth and Heaven, is still subject to the spirit of Love, whom “everything in the universe is subject to.” The Demogorgon travels with Asia and Panthea to Heaven and topples Jupiter down into the abyss, thus ending the God’s reign. Demogorgon is reminiscent of the character of Death from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the child of Satan and Sin and who inhabits the vast realm of Night between Hell and the Earth. The Demogorgon is also associated with fate or destiny in Shelley’s poem and is described as the “doom which lies coiled under the throne of Jupiter,” suggesting that Jupiter’s downfall has always been inevitable and that the God’s attempts to cling to power are futile.

Demogorgon Quotes in Prometheus Unbound

The Prometheus Unbound quotes below are all either spoken by Demogorgon or refer to Demogorgon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of Prometheus Unbound published in 2002.
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Resist not the weakness—
Such strength is in meekness—
That the Eternal, the Immortal,
Must unloose through life’s portal
The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne
By that alone!

Related Characters: Jupiter, Asia, Panthea, Demogorgon
Page Number: 2.3.93-98
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first
And Light and Love;—then Saturn, from whose throne
Time fell, an envious shadow; such the state
Of the earth’s primal spirits beneath his sway
As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves
Before the wind or sun has withered them
And semivital worms; but he refused
The birthright of their being, knowledge, power,
The skill which wields the elements, the thought
Which pierces this dim Universe like light,
Self-empire and the majesty of love,
For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus
Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter
And with this Law alone: “Let man be free,”
Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven.

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Demogorgon
Related Symbols: Fire, The Hours
Page Number: 2.4.32-46
Explanation and Analysis:

Such the alleviations of his state
Prometheus gave to man—for which he hangs
Withering in destined pain—but who rains down
Evil, the immedicable plague, which while
Man looks on his creation like a God
And sees that it is glorious, drives him on,
The wreck of his own will, the scorn of Earth,
The outcast, the abandoned, the alone?—
Not Jove: while yet his frown shook Heaven, aye when
His adversary' from adamantine' chains
Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare
Who is his master? Is he too a slave?

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Demogorgon
Page Number: 2.4.98-109
Explanation and Analysis:

Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change?—To these
All things are subject but eternal Love.

So much I asked before, and my heart gave
The response thou hast given; and of such truths
Each to itself must be the oracle.—
One more demand . . . and do thou answer me
As my own soul would answer, did it know
That which I ask.—Prometheus shall arise
Henceforth the Sun of this rejoicing world:
When shall the destined hour arrive?

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Demogorgon (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Panthea
Related Symbols: The Spirit of Love
Page Number: 2.4.119-128
Explanation and Analysis:

The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night I see
Cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds
Which trample the dim winds—in each there stands
A wild-eyed charioteer, urging their flight.
Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there
And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars:
Others with burning eyes lean forth, and drink
With eager lips the wind of their own speed
As if the thing they loved fled on before
And now—even now' they clasped it; their bright locks
Stream like a comet’s flashing hair: they all
Sweep onward.—

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Demogorgon (speaker), Panthea
Related Symbols: The Hours
Page Number: 2.4.129-139
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Rejoice! henceforth I am omnipotent.
All else has been subdued to me—alone
The soul of man, like unextinguished fire,
Yet burns towards Heaven with fierce reproach and doubt
And lamentation and reluctant prayer,
Hurling up insurrection, which might make
Our antique empire insecure, though built
On eldest faith, and Hell's coeval, fear.
And though my curses through the pendulous air
Like snow on herbless peaks, fall flake by flake
And cling to it—though under my wrath’s night
It climb the crags of life, step after step,
Which wound it, as ice wounds unsandalled feet,
It yet remains supreme o'er misery,
Aspiring . . . unrepressed; yet soon to fall:

Related Characters: Jupiter (speaker), Prometheus, Asia, Demogorgon
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 3.1.3-17
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4 Quotes

Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom and Endurance,—
These are the seals of that most firm assurance
Which bars the pit over Destruction’s strength;
And if, with infirm hand, Eternity,
Mother of many acts and hours, should free
The serpent that would clasp her with his length,—
These are the spells by which to reassume
An empire o’er the disentangled Doom.

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than Death or Night
To defy Power which seems Omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change nor falter nor repent:
This, like thy glory, Titan! is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire and Victory.

Related Characters: Demogorgon (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Spirit of Love
Page Number: 4.562-578
Explanation and Analysis:
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Demogorgon Character Timeline in Prometheus Unbound

The timeline below shows where the character Demogorgon appears in Prometheus Unbound. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 2
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
...the nightingales are always singing here. The air is full of soft music, which, “by Demogorgon’s mighty law,” leads spirits through this secret glade to the “fatal mountain.” (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon the mountain, which they hover above, as the entrance to the lair of the Demogorgon. This entrance is also a spring which sends up “oracular vapor.” “Lonely, young men wandering... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Asia and Panthea enter the cave of the Demogorgon. A dark, shapeless form, the Demogorgon sits on the throne and asks them what they... (full context)
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Asia asks who reigns. She tells the Demogorgon that Heaven, Earth, Light, and Love existed first and then, when gods were born, “time... (full context)
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
The Demogorgon opens the night sky and shows Asia and Panthea a series of chariots racing by,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
...this is “soon to fall.” He tells them that he has produced an offspring, the Demogorgon, who will be more powerful even than himself. He hears the wheels of the chariot... (full context)
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
When the chariot of the Hour arrives, the Demogorgon steps out and approaches Jupiter, who is horrified by its appearance. The Demogorgon demands that... (full context)
Act 4
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
Panthea and Ione rise when they hear the voice of the Demogorgon addressing the world. The Earth and the Moon, voices from nature, humanity, and the spirits... (full context)