Analyse of "Prometheus" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Prometheus" is a poem written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1774, which deals with the relationship between the Greek gods Prometheus and Zeus. The poem consists of 7 stanzas, each with a different number of verses. In the first stanza, Prometheus expresses his dislike for Zeus by using the imperative "Bedecke deinen Himmel" (Cover your sky) (cf. line 1). He also emphasizes through a parallelism that the earth was built by him and is not Zeus' property (cf. lines 8 ff.). Obviously, Zeus is jealous of Prometheus' work. The next stanza begins with Prometheus calling the gods "Arme" (poor) (cf. line 10). Thus, he portrays them as ridiculous and pitiful. In the third stanza, Goethe tells of Prometheus' past. He was helpless and did not know where his place in the world was. So he tried to seek help from the gods. The fourth stanza contains rhetorical questions. This makes it clear that Prometheus does not mean what he says. When he turned to the gods, Zeus continued to only care about his own affairs. This type of narration makes Prometheus' disappointment and anger clear. In the next stanza, Goethe also uses only rhetorical questions. These have the same effect as in the previous stanza, but here the anger is even more evident. He accuses Zeus of not caring and refuses to respect him. In the penultimate stanza, it is written that Prometheus should be ashamed and run away at Zeus' command. In the last part of the poem, he describes what he likes to do now. He creates people who are like him. They have the same feelings as Prometheus and despise Zeus just as he does. Goethe uses many rhetorical questions in his poem. This effectively conveys the feeling that Prometheus has towards Zeus to the readers. He rejects Zeus out of disappointment for his lack of help. Thus, Zeus is portrayed as incompetent and unhelpful. Additionally, the poem mentions at one point that Zeus exploits people, including Prometheus. He is dependent on humanity. Prometheus despises and humiliates him for this. He follows his heart and puts it at the center of his actions. This could be the reason why the word "heart" is mentioned in the middle of the poem. Prometheus pursues the desire for freedom and independence. He wants to achieve equality, which is why he creates people who are like him. Thus, there is no one who is higher up. He shows courage by standing up to Zeus and passion for what he does. The poem develops from Prometheus as a helpless being to an independent creator of people. Zeus and Prometheus represent a kind of opposition. The poem can be classified into the literary period of "Sturm und Drang" (Storm and Stress). Prometheus opposes Zeus and disregards his rules. He goes through the process of immaturity and is strongly guided by his emotions.