(Journal entry 1, Defining the Byronic Hero)
The Byronic Hero is a term derived from the poetic narrative, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, by Lord Byron. Though the idea of the Byronic Hero originated with the creation of Byron’s characters, Byron himself possessed the physical features associated with the Byronic Hero. These features include dark brooding eyes, dark hair, pale skin and a slender frame. The Byronic hero derived from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, strays away from the typical “hero” role by possessing dual characteristics of good as well as evil, “And had been glorious in another day: but one sad losel soils a name for aye…”(Byron,C.H.181). The Byronic Hero is usually defined by his voluntary isolation from the normal institutions of society, “Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again, with nought of hope left, but with less of gloom…” (Byron,C.H.211). He also represses his passions creating an unrequited obsession when, “He bids to sober joy that here sojourns: nought interrupts the riot, though in lieu of true devotion monkish incense burns…” and “had buried long his hopes, no more to rise: pleasure’s pall’d victim! Life-abhorring gloom.”(Byron,C.H. 193) In these remarks, the Hero prefers to bask in sorrow for a love lost or never attained than to pursue the object of his desire. The Byronic Hero prides himself on his intellectual ability because his intelligence eclipses that of the average man. “But soon he knew himself the most unfit of men to herd with man; with whom he held little in common; untaught to submit his thoughts to others, though his soul was quell’d in his you...
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...the confines of society. The Superhero further evades societal restrictions by masking himself and keeping his identity a mystery. This mystery distinguishes the Hero from others and places him into the Byronic realm where the dark figure retreats to solitude. Unlike the Byronic Hero described in Byron’s poetry the new Superhero has a dual conscience that allows him to reside outside of societal foundations while working to uphold the society’s values.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston: New York 2002.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Interpretations. New Have: New York 1987.
Leone, Bruno, ed.Readings on Edgar Allan Poe. San Diego: CA 1998.
Page, Frederick, ed. Byron Poetical Works. Oxford: New York 1970.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views George Gordon, Lord Byron. New Haven: New York 1986.
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