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A "closet drama" by Lord Byron. Has nothing to do with dramas about that closet. It is written as a play but probably not intended by the author to actually be performed on the stage. It would be hard to stage without Adaptation Decay. The eponymous Manfred is a Swiss nobleman with magic power to summon spirits. He is thoroughly miserable over the loss of one Astarte, and tries to contact her to find out whether (1) she is in heaven, (2) he will ever be reunited with her, and (3) whether his sufferings will ever end.
This story contains examples of the following tropes:
- Author Tract at least a little bit.
- Byronic Hero Manfred is a classic example and Trope Namer.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Manfred spends a good chunk of the play telling one character or another that he can't explain what has made him so miserable.
- Deal with the Devil averted. Manfred makes clear he got his power from study of nature, not from selling his soul. In the final scene, demons show up to drag Manfred to hell under the mistaken impression that he is a Faust Expy. Manfred's response to them is all of the following:
- Executive Meddling: In the original print run, Byron's publisher, John Murray, deleted Manfred's last line of dialogue.
- Faust: Specifically, Goethe's version. Invoked, then subverted, as Manfred just wants Easy Amnesia instead of knowledge.
- God of Evil Arimanes. Manfred doesn't deck him but he certainly stands up to him.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Although Manfred is doing his best.
- Large Ham: Manfred himself. The Chamois Hunter calls him on it.
- The Lost Lenore all over the place.
- Magic Misfire: Manfred doesn't do very well when summoning spirits.
- Noodle Incident played for drama: It is never explained exactly what happened, but heavily implies that Astarte was Manfred's sister, maybe even twin, and that she was Driven to Suicide over Brother-Sister Incest.
- Squishy Wizard averted. Manfred casually wanders over pinnacles of the Alps where even chamois hunters fear to tread.