Date of Award
Master of Arts
After considering Byron's relation to the theatre as an amateur actor and committeeman, viewing his dramatic concepts, and comparing him to other poets of his own day who attempted dramas, it can be clearly seen that both from an acting and a literary standpoint, his dramas are of an inferior quality. There can be no doubt of Byron's disappointment and disillusionment, as he had devoted so much time and energy at the prime of his life to them. At first he had said that this work was not for the stage, wishing all the time that he might capture the stage. For this reason the statements in the prefaces of Marino Faliero, Sardanapalus, and Werner concerning his not writing for the stage may be regarded as untrue. However, it is definite that he did not have the stage in mind when he wrote Manfred and Cain. The length of these pieces and the abstractness of the characters indicate that he did not have in mind the same goal that he did with the "regular" dramas and with Werner. The stageworthiness of the fragments need not be considered, of course.
Byron had once begun a comedy "and burnt it because the scene ran into reality." It was difficulty for him to face the reality of failure, just as it was difficult for him to face any reality. The reason the above quotation was omitted from the preface when the play was published is not known, but very possibly it was because he kept it back purposely. To have printed it would have been much worse than to admit failure to himself--he would have been admitting to it to the public, and failure in the eye of the public, to whom he had always considered himself superior, would have been impossible to bear.
Taylor, Welford Dunaway, "The dramas of Byron : an evaluation" (1961). Master's Theses. 1342.