Positive in the image of Harold - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

Positive in the image of Harold
Lord George Gordon Byron

In 1812, the first two songs of the lyric-epic poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" appeared, which was created over several years. However, we will consider all four of her songs at once, written at different times, since both thematically and in terms of their genre features they form one inseparable whole. The poem "Childe Harold" made a huge impression not only on the English reading public, but on all the progressive people of Europe. In 1812 alone, it went through five editions, which was an exceptional phenomenon at that time. In the first canto of the poem, Byron, after a series of abstract discussions about human nature, approaches the same point of view on which the French enlighteners themselves stood:

Like the enlighteners, Byron in the first song argues that people can rationally transform obsolete public institutions. Unable to explain or predict the regularity with which this fate manifests itself, Byron announces in the third song about his hostility to the human race: gloomy and tragic notes of doom appear in the poem. However, the poet does not even think of preaching humility, apathy, non-resistance. Again overcoming despondency and despair, he calls for a fight against all manifestations of political tyranny and social oppression. In the fourth song, the poet expresses optimistic confidence that the laws of history work for the benefit of the peoples. Inspired by the revolutionary moods that prevailed in Italian society in the early 20s, Byron expresses the hope that "good changes" will soon take place in the world,

From the first lines, the reader is presented with the image of a young man who lost faith in life and people. It is characterized by spiritual emptiness, disappointment, anxiety and a painful desire for endless wanderings. Under the assumed guise of cold indifference hides a "fatal and fiery game of passions."

He “leaves his family castle”, boards a ship and leaves his homeland; he is drawn to the East, to the wonderful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, to the magical southern countries. Childe Harold's "farewell" to his homeland is one of the most moving parts of the poem. Here, with great lyrical power, the deep spiritual drama of the hero is revealed:

Ordinary prosaic reality did not satisfy the hero, but, faced with a new experience - the events of the liberation war unfolding before his eyes in Spain, Harold can perceive it only as an observer. Proud loneliness, melancholy - that's What a bitter lot. Sometimes there is only a turning point in Harold's mind: Nevertheless, individualism is the main distinguishing feature of Harold, which is especially emphasized by Byron in the third song of the poem, written at that period of creativity, when the poet already definitely questioned the "heroism" of his romantic character.

The positive in the image of Harold is his irreconcilable protest against any oppression, deep disappointment in the ideals prepared for him, the constant spirit of search and the desire to strive towards the unknown, the desire to know himself and the world around him. This is a dark nature. His confused soul is just beginning to open up to the world.

In the image of Childe Harold, his creator gave a great artistic generalization. Harold is a "hero of his time", a thinking and suffering hero. Harold became the ancestor of many romantic heroes of the early 19th century, he caused many imitations.

The image of Harold is the main organizing component in the construction of the poem. However, its theme is by no means limited to revealing the spiritual world of the protagonist, the poem reflected the main events of European life in the first third of the 19th century - the national liberation struggle of peoples against the aggressive aspirations of Napoleon I, the oppression of the Turkish Sultan. The description of Harold's journey allows you to combine a huge number of facts from the life of the peoples of Spain, Greece, Albania, to compare national types and characters.

Forgetting about his hero, the poet constantly digresses, he evaluates the events of political life and the deeds of individual historical figures. He calls for the struggle for freedom, condemns or approves, advises or condemns, rejoices or mourns.

Thus, another character of the poem often comes to the fore: a lyrical hero who expresses the thoughts and feelings of the author, giving an assessment of certain events, so that sometimes it is difficult to understand where Harold speaks and acts, and where the lyrical hero of the poem expresses his feelings. for Byron often forgets about Harold; sometimes, after 10-15 stanzas, as if recollecting himself, he makes a reservation: "Harold thought so", "Childe reasoned so", etc.

The action of the romantic poems and lyrical dramas of the English Romantics unfolds either against the backdrop of the whole universe, or on boundless geographical expanses; grandiose social upheavals, the meaning of which was often not entirely clear to the romantics, are depicted by them with the help of symbols and metaphorical images of titans entering into single combat with each other. Such is Byron's depiction of the struggle of the champion of the rights of oppressed humanity, Prometheus. Such is the depiction of the sinister forces of the war of conquest in Childe Harold, which is personified by the Blood Giant, the gigantic image of death.

The contrast technique is often used in the poem: the beauty of the luxurious southern nature, the spiritual greatness of the ordinary people of heroic Spain and Albania are opposed to the hypocrisy and lack of spirituality of the English bourgeois-aristocratic society. This is achieved by constantly introducing allusions to the way of life of the English inhabitants, ironic remarks addressed to the English politicians. The contrast between the moral character of the "noble nobility" and the common people of Spain is also striking. The first turn out to be traitors to the fatherland, the second - its saviors.

The genre of the lyrical-epic poem, introduced by Byron into literature, greatly expanded the possibilities of the artistic depiction of life. This was primarily expressed in a more in-depth display of the spiritual world of people, in the depiction of powerful passions and experiences of heroes, in lyrical reflections on the fate of mankind and peoples.

The first song of the poem tells how Childe Harold travels through Portugal and Spain. The description of this journey is based on a typically romantic contrast. Harold is amazed by the splendor of beautiful seascapes, fragrant lemon groves and gardens, majestic mountain ranges. But he sees that this flourishing land does not know peace and quiet: war is raging in Spain; the army of French invaders invaded it from the north, the British government, under the "plausible" pretext that it wants to restore the "legitimate" feudal monarchy overthrown by Napoleon, landed troops in Cadiz. Byron paints the wars of conquest in their true, unattractive light, he deprives them of the halo of false heroics.

Giving in the first song sketches of life, customs, character traits of the inhabitants of Zaragossa, Seville, Madrid, etc., Byron at the same time shows the mass heroism of the people of Spain, who rose to fight for their independence: a girl from Zaragossa, leaving the castanets, fearlessly follows beloved in battles and bandages his wounds, and when her beloved dies, she herself leads her compatriots into battle: A simple peasant left peaceful labor to change a sickle for a sword; townspeople are trained in military affairs in order to repulse the enemy, etc.

The poet praises the courage of the people, urges him to remember the heroic spirit of his ancestors, to become a thunderstorm for foreign invaders. Byron, one of the first European writers, convincingly showed that the people themselves are able to stand up for their rights. In the second song of Childe Harold, Harold visits Greece, whose people then he still did not have the opportunity to take up arms against his enslavers - the Turks. Byron shrewdly predicted to the people of Greece that he could win his freedom only by his own strength.

He warned the patriots that no foreign ally would help them free themselves from the Turkish yoke unless they themselves took up arms. During his travels, Harold also visited Albania. Describing the harsh nature of this country, Byron created an exciting image of an Albanian patriot, in which the "heroic spirit of Iskander" is alive - the hero of the Albanian people who led the national liberation movement against the Turks.

Having carefully read the first two songs of the poem, one cannot fail to notice that the image of Harold is, as it were, constantly obscured and relegated to the background by another hero of the poem - a collective image of the people of those countries through which Childe Harold travels - the images of the Spanish partisans (Guerillas), Albanian patriots, freedom-loving Greeks. The creation of these images by Byron was an ideological and artistic innovation for that time; the English poet was able to emphasize the great importance of the people's liberation movements for the fate of European society in the early 1910s.