The Dramas of Lord Byron: Manfred and Marino Faliero *
This chapter begins with a consideration of the social dimension of crime in Manfred. A Marxist interest in the material conditions of literary production is apparent when Daniel Watkins emphasizes Manfred’s ‘alienation’ and claims that there is ‘class significance’ in Manfred’s various actions. It is common knowledge that Manfred is shaped by specific and intensely personal difficulties in Lord Byron’s life. One poetic formulation of the sort of large historical change that is anticipated in this statement appears in Manfred, though it is a formulation expressive of considerably more anxiety than Byron, in his typically self-confident manner, admits in his letter to Hunt. The various difficulties and accomplishments associated with the history plays can be seen most readily in Marino Faliero. If Marino Faliero gives the question of political violence its noble, tragic dimension, Bertram gives it a broader social significance.