A re-vision of women: approaching gender equality in Prometheus unbound and Proserpine
Whereas ancient accounts of the Prometheus story cast the Titan's wife in a secondary and easily overlooked role, Percy Shelley portrays Prometheus and Asia as mutually dependent partners, establishing the couple as equals who represent what Percy sees as the two gendered aspects of the revolution that takes place in Prometheus Unbound: intellect and intuition. In contrast to Percy, Mary Shelley revises women in Proserpine by eliminating the male characters and creating females who possess both intuition and the intellect that Percy sees as an inherently masculine trait. Both approaches improve women's status from their roles in the ancient texts but in drastically different ways. Percy views the distance between the genders not as something to be overcome but as something to be undone. Equality, as he sees it, is a natural state to be regained, and Prometheus and Asia, as mutually dependent partners, are free of the gender inequality that they eventually eliminate among humankind. Mary calls not for an undoing but a reaction by focusing on women's bond with one another and their independence from men instead of men and women's dependence upon one another.