“Political Euthanasia” in Mary Shelley’s Valperga
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AbstractIn Shelley’s Valperga, the character Euthanasia is a central clue for critics to explore Shelley’s political thought. Lew associates Euthanasia as moderate republicanism, arguing that Euthanasia’s Florence is a “stable” (Lew 162) republic with “mixed or moderate aristocratic” (Lew 162) elements. In contrast, Carson argues that Shelley “expresses her admiration for republican Rome through the character Euthanasia” (Carson 170). Nevertheless, as Rajan comments, Euthanasia embodies Godwin’s anarchist thought. Godwin’s utopian anarchism is based on his philosophical idea of “perfectibility” (Godwin PJ 33) that refers to the “perpetual improvement” (PJ 33) of human intellect and virtue. He thus emphasizes individual judgment and regards governments as “nothing but regulated force” (Godwin PPW II 230), looking forward to a possible “euthanasia of government” (PPW II 238). Moreover, according to Rossington, Shelley explores “a ‘truth’ to history that poetry and fiction are uniquely equipped to communicate” (Rossington 104). This truth reveals itself more in the private realm of individual freedom than in the public realm of political freedom. It resonates with Dante’s “poetic conscience” (Rossington 106) instead of his actual politics; the former, Rossington argues, is internalized by Euthanasia.

Based on those arguments, my paper further explores Euthanasia as a character that engages in intricate relationships with Castruccio, Beatrice, and her surrounding political situations. It argues that only through unraveling ideological clashes and interpersonal relationships can we fully understand the “political euthanasia” of Valperga. For Shelley, the essence of freedom lies in the a-political self that constantly regenerates itself through clash, struggle and change.
All Author(s) ListLiang Huiling
Name of ConferenceThe 15th International Conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies: Romantic Improvement
Start Date of Conference27/07/2017
End Date of Conference30/07/2017
Place of ConferenceUniversity of York
Country/Region of ConferenceGreat Britain
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2018-20-01 at 19:20