The Byronic Type of the Hero in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

The Byronic Type of the Hero in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
Lord George Gordon Byron

The Byronic type of hero is one of the brightest phenomena of romantic art. After many years of the dominance of classicism, according to the laws of which the artistic image was built according to the dictates of the mind and civic and moral obligations, a new creative method began to take shape. In the process of the formation of romanticism, the interest in individual personality traits, in her feelings, aspirations - in knowing the inner world of the hero, became decisive. Byron's poems ("Childe Harold's Pilgrimage", 1812) and Pushkin's ("Prisoner of the Caucasus", 1820) are among the most prominent works, the central characters of which are carriers of the popular in the first quarter of the 19th century. tuned - suffering from a feeling of disappointment, disgust from what was considered the bait of life, a feeling of loneliness in one's circle and the desire for freedom.

The typological proximity of the heroes of Byron's and Pushkin's poems is due to the peculiarities of the era of romanticism in world literature. She found herself in the moods and forms of protest characteristic of both heroes of that time. The significant difference between the characters is due to shifts in the poetics of romanticism, which took place over the course of almost a decade. In the 1920s, Pushkin could not but feel the new trends in literary development.

The formation of romanticism in Europe took place in conditions of increased emotional tension of the peoples, outraged by the events of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the restoration. In the crucible of historical events and spiritual searches, a person felt himself a participant in a historical action. This is connected with the desire to know his spiritual essence in the ratio - “man and the world”. In the development of the poetics of romanticism, a certain role was played by the aesthetic and psychological searches of the figures of enlightenment - Voltaire, D. Diderot, G. Lessing, J. Herder. The ideas of J. J. Rousseau, expressed in the "Confession" (1766-69) and his other works, gained considerable distribution. On the basis of philosophical, pedagogical, aesthetic thoughts and beliefs of Rousseau, an ideological complex was formed - “Rousseauism”. Byron was his follower.

In the process of formation and development of romanticism in world literature, with the unity of the main aesthetic principles, the originality of national signs of culture and creative manners of artists is sensitively revealed. According to the nature of social processes and widespread dispositions of the spirit, the psychological complex of the deeply suffering hero is formed through the non-perception of the environment to which he himself belongs.

In the conditions of a variety of ideological movements, dispositions of the spirit and mental complexes during this period, various incarnations of the romantic hero were formed. In romantic art, even within the same country, different trends coexisted. So, in Germany, the poets of "Storm and Pressure" (W. Goethe, F. Schiller) were inspired and united by the humanistic pathos of enlightenment, and representatives of the school of romanticism - A. and F. Schlegel, F. Novalis, L. Tok adhered to a different position. Using the philosophical ideas of I. Fichte, F. Schelling, Friedrich Schlegel argued that the essence of poetry is “to abolish the course and laws of a rationally thinking mind and again plunge us into a beautiful mess of fantasy, into the original chaos of human nature”3. E. Hoffman, rethinking the concept of romantic irony, which was a means of estrangement from unattractive reality, and not sharing the confidence that the romantic “I” is able to rise above the meanness of the burdensome everyday life, intensifies in his works the tragic understanding of the disagreements of life and the impotence of the romantic “I”. Heine wrote that Hoffmann tried to escape into the world of fantasy, life itself, like a terrible ghost, repelled him from reality, which gave him a terrible and ugly masquerade.

Different directions of romanticism were also formed in Byron's contemporary England. The poet did not share the positions of the “Lake School” romantics (W. Wordsworth, S. Coleridge, R. Southey), who idealized patriarchy, tried to show the irrationality of the nature of the human personality, succeeding in the traditional means of medieval mysticism. Byron's creative position was marked by a negative attitude towards mysticism and irrationalism. He was a supporter of ideas, the Rousseauist "cult of nature", he suffered from the awareness of the baseness of widespread interests and aspirations.

The publication in 1812 of the first two songs of the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage brought the poet success and recognition. In the image of the protagonist, readers saw a phenomenon characteristic of European social life and an attempt to know its essence and causes. I was struck by the display in the artistic image of the features of a real-life type. This was the first attempt to understand the inner world of a contemporary. According to the poet, he "woke up and found out that he was famous."

In a single complex of dispositions of the spirit, feelings, aspirations, which spread under the name "Byronism", the dispositions of the spirit characteristic of that era were combined. Common features of the “Byronic” hero (non-perception of the surrounding world, feeling of loneliness, striving for individual freedom) are reflected to one degree or another in the literatures of different countries - in the works of Benjamin Constant, Alfred de Vina, Adam Mickiewicz, A. Pushkin, M. Lermontov . Despite the similarity of defining features, the images of the heroes of these works bear signs of the originality of national life and culture. The eternal problem of "man and the world" acquired a new interpretation. Individual personality traits began to be considered in a causal relationship with historical and cultural conditions and the concepts and customs prevailing in society. The comprehension of such a connection was sometimes emphasized even by the titles of the works. Alfred de Musset called his work "Confession of the son of the century" (1836), M. Lermontov - "Hero of our time" (1840).

Byron's poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" began an attempt at artistic knowledge of the essence of the dispositions of the spirit common in the world. It tells about the descendant of an old English family, who led a normal life for his environment, but soon lost interest in the ghostly secular lures. On the paths of goodness, the hero did not seek comfort, and disgusting orgies no longer amused him. As a result of disappointment in what had previously seemed tempting, he felt:

•o But in Childe's heart he carried away a dull pain,

•o And his thirst for pleasures cooled down,

•o And often the brilliance of his sudden tears

•o Only indignant pride extinguished.

•o Meantime, the caustic force of longing

•o Called to leave the land where he grew up, -

•o Alien heavens to greet the luminaries;

•o He called sorrow, satiated with fun,

•o Ready to run to hell, but leave Albion

•? (Song 1, stanza 4-6)

Feeling alone in the usual circle, trying to dispel boredom, disappointment, mental anguish, he breaks ties with his environment, left his parental castle and set off on a long voyage. The variety of seashores consoles him. The Rousseauist convictions of Byron himself are expressively in the mood of the hero. With enthusiasm he perceives

* Indescribably full of beauty

* This whole region, abundant and happy.

* In delight you look at meadows, flowers,

* At fat cattle, at pastures, and fields,

* And banks, and meanders of blue rivers,

* But executioners invaded this land, -

* Smite, oh sky, their wicked generation!

* All the lightnings, all the thunders of the army,

* Deliver the Eden of the earth from the Gallic locust

* (stanza 15)

The lands of Portugal, Spain, Albania, Malta, Greece, Turkey remain behind the ship, the pictures change, which evoke the traveler's memories of the historical events that took place there, thoughts about the modern destinies of the peoples of different countries. The lyricism of admiring nature gradually acquires a philosophical and epic character, and reflections on the course of history are signs of “world sorrow”. The squalor of the cities of Portugal, devastated by the wars of Spain and Albania, gives rise to bitter thoughts. In the narrator's thoughts, the motives of disappointment, longing and hopelessness sound. “Oh weeping, Spain!” - this is how he expresses his attitude to historical events in countries.

Mentioning the aggressive invasions, the death of people in battles, he poses an emotionally intense question that reveals the strength of his indignation:

•· O young men, sons of Spain!

* (stanza 53)

Above the ruins of antiquity, the traveler talks about the frailty of everything earthly. With sadness, he mentions the historical events that brought poverty, distress and were identified in folk customs. With enthusiasm he mentions episodes of the patriotic struggle of the peoples who defended their freedom. “Whoever strives for will - he himself breaks the shackles,” he claims. Noting the greatness of the classical era in the history of Greece, the traveler sympathetically speaks of the tragedy of the Greek people in the conditions of Turkish enslavement.