Romantic Escape from Reality in Byron's Childe Harold - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

Romantic Escape from Reality in Byron's Childe Harold
Lord George Gordon Byron

He is the mournful land of war and crimes

He left coldly, without tears, without regret.

G. Byron

"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is written in the form of a lyrical diary of the protagonist - Childe Harold.

Childe Harold is a young man from a noble family. His ancestors "gained glory and honor in citizenship and on the battlefield." The young man lived, not knowing worries, not thinking about tomorrow. But suddenly, "in the prime of life in May", when he was 18 years old, Childe Harold got bored with everything and satiety set in - "a fatal disease of the mind and heart." Disappointed in the world, tired of the pleasures, he decides to leave the land where he grew up, boards a ship and sets off "foreign skies to greet the luminaries."

To the hero of the poem, who repeats the journey of Byron himself, the poet gives the features of his contemporaries, young people from an environment well known to him.

Childe Harold is a typical romantic hero: young, disappointed in life, people, bored, jaded, unable to find his place in life. Confrontation with the injustice of society is the source of his disappointment, contempt and sorrow. It is to this poem that the expressions "Byronian sorrow" and "Byronic hero" owe their origin.

The poet understood the romantic loneliness of the hero as a protest against the norms and rules of life of his circle, with which Byron himself was forced to break, but at the same time he criticized Childe Harold's egocentrism and isolation. The hero is in irreconcilable conflict with society and its morality. His name quickly became a household name for a person who was disappointed in everything, protesting. Anticipating that he would be identified with Childe Harold, Byron wrote: “I by no means intend to identify myself with Harold; I deny any relationship with him. If in places it may seem as if I painted my own portrait, believe me that this is only in places, and I don’t even want to admit that ... I would never want to be like my hero for anything in the world. ”The further the action unfolds, the more sharply and distinctly the lyrical hero, embodying the author's "I", is separated from the image of Harold. Before us is no longer a bored aristocrat, but a freedom-loving poet, with an inquisitive mind and a sympathetic heart. He enthusiastically writes about the Spanish people who heroically defended their homeland from foreign invaders. He welcomes the city of Cadiz, which "remained faithful in the midst of treason", admires the strength of character of the Spanish women.

The tragic fate of Greece cannot leave Byron indifferent: "He is insensible who, as over the ashes of dear Greece, does not weep over you." The salvation of every nation lies in its own struggle. Byron's appeal to the Greek people is imbued with this thought: “O Greece! Get up to fight! The slave must win his own freedom!”

The poet sincerely suffers because the revolution did not bring true freedom to the people of France, “and the world again saw the triumph of violence,” but Byron is sure that liberation will come.

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is Byron's first work, a new type of romance that differs from its predecessors. Defending the freedom of peoples, their right to the national liberation struggle, Byron did not run away from reality, but called for intervention in it.

The name of Byron, the poet, in the words of Pushkin, “mourned by freedom”, is always close and dear to those for whom the high and beautiful feelings of people, their noble struggle against arbitrariness and tyranny, are sacred.

Byron's work was innovative, it contained ideas that excited both contemporaries and subsequent generations. What was unsaid, what was not understood by Byron was said or gave rise to new disputes, but his work always disturbed the minds, awakened the imagination. And the poet, as if foreseeing this, said:

... I did not live in vain!

Although, perhaps, under a storm of adversity,

I am broken by the struggle, sooner I will fade away,

But there is something in me that will not die,

Which neither death nor time will fly,

Nor the slander of enemies will destroy,

Which will come to life in a multiple echo.