Percy Bysshe Shelley appears as one of the most prominent romantic poets whose spirited poeticity forms a rich field to study throughout time. Even though he died young like few great poets, his famousness spread wherever wind fly and reach as he had wished. His spontaneity with focusing on inner reality rather than appearance is supposed to be as the characteristic not only to avoid any unneeded consequences but also to revive the centre to reflect its positive ray-like radiations to all parts. Shelley’s love for books seems to have exceeded any other desire. He probably absorbed various cultures and reproduced it in a very creative, abstract and glorified manner. The poet has possibly left no stone unturned to make an effectual contribution to cultural change. His poetry seems to be in a continual motion, ready to change and resist unconstructive changing. It can be assumed that because of his charm poeticity and its challengeability many academicians still push each other to study and analyse his works to discover more in his devoted personality and fertile writings.
Critics of Shelley and his works appear to extremely move up and down. A number of critics overstate the poet and his poetry while few underrate both the poet and his writings. Specimens of both views are mentioned here under. For instance, Mathew Arnold who sees both Shelley and his poetry as ‘not entirely sane’ (qtd. in Varshney 60), likewise Hazlitt regards him as the poet of ‘bubbles’ ‘touch them and they vanish’, similarly T.S.Eliot considers his ideas as ‘repellent’ and his poetry as ‘an affair at adolescence’ together with Symonds who agreed with them. On the contrary other critics like Dowden, Edmunds, J.R.Ullman, O.Elton, Quiller-Couch, S.A.Brooke, “Carl Grabo, Carlos Baker, C. E. Pulos, Kenneth Neill Cameron, Earl R. Wasserman, and Harold Bloom, and the bibliographical and editorial work of Charles H. Taylor, Jr. and Donald Reiman” (O’Neill 4-5) strongly refuted and defended Shelley against these charges. Each one of these critics has tried to focus on a certain aspect of the poet’s works with explicit or implicit response to detractors. It can be evidenced that the proverb that Shelley once repeated to his friends is likely applicable on him; “No person throws a stone at a tree that does not bear fruit."(Stoddard 208). Thus Shelley and his works look to be over-loaded with uneasily pluck up fruits.
Shelley seems to have oscillated between two ends. He may have seen his grandfather-Bysshe- the religious and political man practicing some irreligious activities. The poet could have noticed a schizophrenic personality in his grandfather in marrying religiosity with irreligious deeds. He ones wrote to Elizabeth Hitchener that his grandfather “is a bad man. I never had a respect for him, I always regarded him as a curse on society’ (Letters: PBS I, 239)” (qtd. in Garrett 25). When his first beloved- Harriet called him ‘Bysshe’ the name he strongly does not accept to be named after and firmly asked her “to call him ‘Percy’ rather than ‘Bysshe” (Hawkins, The Grove Diaries, 71– 8; Shelley’s First Love, 38– 9.)” (Reiman and Bieri 17). Here Bysshe or Percy as he had wished to be called, is supposed to have developed a rejection of hypocrisy and whatever attaches him with even though the person was his father, grandfather or any dear. It is assumed that upon his request his first wife ‘addressed him as Percy’. Nevertheless some may regard such despise of the poet to his grandfather is because of the former’s unsuccess to extract ‘financial aid’ from the latter. This opinion looks totally vain since Percy has never taken care of money or any materiality. His friend-Peacock says “In Marlow Shelley intervened to some purpose in the life of the poor, giving money, blankets and, on one occasion, his shoes (Peacock 70; Hunt, vol. 2, p. 190; Dowden , vol. 2, pp. 121–2)”(qtd. in Garrett 141). It appears crystal clear that a person who gives his blanket and shoes while he is in utmost need because of being overtaken by many physical diseases and severe climate neither exhausts him nor takes hatred on any materiality. Thus Shelley looks not only to see the error of other’s way but also put right ones.
The poet looks to have his own view on every person and aspect of life. For instance, politics is being regarded as an abused tool. Shelley may have considered his father who was a member of parliament, a corrupted personality. Donald H.Reiman and James Bieri suggest that “Shelley despised the sexual hypocrisy of both his grandfather and his father, who told Shelley that he could have as many children out of wedlock as he liked but should not make a misalliance” (16). Such a hypocritical behavior of an apparently religious and politician may have implanted in him what may be called aversion or reluctance of these two portions of people. Consequently, a number of his poems or essays have been allocated to criticize either directly or indirectly political and religious institutions as well as their personal-biased representatives. Henceforth Shelley neither veers away of religious and political ideologies nor readopt with; but keeps searching for other democratic alternatives and amendments.
Percy seems to have developed some discrepancies in aloofing. People probably not realized that he might have done this as a means of mediation. Some critics assume this habit as well as fertile imagination and bookfishness to have developed some fantasies. Unfortunately they may not have grasped his conception of a poet as “A nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds”(qtd. in Gupta 102). Donald & James remark that “the fantasy creatures inhabiting his precocious, fertile imagination, fed by his omnivorous reading and wanderings through nearby St Leonard’s Forest.” (15). People start to look at him as a mad person. Likewise, R.L.Varshney states that “no one could be a great poet ‘without some mixture of madness’”(143). Consequently he has been sent to Dr. James Lind, a physician at Windsor whom Shelley regards as a real human being in a true sense of the word and perhaps that is why he later alluded at him in his writings. This doctor is the one who “shielded Shelley from his father’s intrusiveness, and his ministrations would be represented in Shelley’s later poetry”(17).