Proserpine, and it’s companion piece Midas
by Mary Shelly and Percy Bysshe Shelley
directed by Jessica Ernst
Tuesday, October 23 at 7pm (RSVP Online)
Tickets are free. Reservations recommended.
Proserpine, and it’s companion piece Midas, by Mary Shelly and Percy Bysshe Shelley is a verse drama written for children. Mary wrote the blank verse drama and Percy contributed two lyric poems. Composed in 1820 while the Shelleys were living in Italy, Proserpine was first published in the London periodical The Winter’s Wreath in 1832. The drama is based on Ovid’s tale of the abduction of Proserpine by Pluto, which itself was based on the Greek myth of Demeterand Persephone. Mary Shelley’s version focuses on the female characters. In a largely feminist retelling from Ceres’s point of view, Shelley emphasizes the separation of mother and daughter and the strength offered by a community of women. The genres of the text also reflect gender debates of the time. Percy contributed in the lyric verse form traditionally dominated by men; Mary created a drama with elements common to early nineteenth-century women’s writing: details of everyday life and empathetic dialogue. Proserpine is part of a female literary tradition which, as feminist literary critic Susan Gubar describes it, has used the story of Ceres and Proserpine to “re-define, to re-affirm and to celebrate female consciousness itself”