Short summary - The Corsair - George Gordon Byron (Noel)

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Short summary - The Corsair
George Gordon Byron (Noel)

The Gyaura color, full of picturesque contrasts, is also distinguished by Byron’s next work of the «eastern» cycle - the more extensive poem «Corsair» written by heroic couplets. In a brief prosaic introduction to the poem dedicated to the pen of the author and like-minded Thomas Moore, the author warns against the characteristic, in his opinion, flaw of modern criticism - which haunted him from the time of Childe Harold's unlawful identification of the main characters - be it Gyaur or anyone the other with the creator of the works. At the same time, the epigraph to the new poem - a line from Tasso's «Liberated Jerusalem» - emphasizes the inner bifurcation of the hero as the most important emotional leitmotif of the story.


The action of «Corsair» takes place in the south of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, in the port of Koroni and the pirate island, lost in the vast expanses of the Mediterranean. The duration of the action is not exactly indicated, but it is not difficult to conclude that the reader is facing the same era of the enslavement of Greece by the Ottoman Empire, which entered a phase of crisis. The figurative-speech means characterizing the characters and what is happening are close to those familiar from Giaur, however, the new poem is more compact in composition, its plot is elaborated in more detail (especially with regard to the adventurous «background»), and the development of events and their sequence more ordered.

The first song opens with a passionate speech depicting the romance of risky and worries of a pirate destiny. The filibusters, soldered by the feeling of a military partnership, idolize their fearless chieftain Conrad. And now, a quick brig under the pirate flag, terrifying the whole district, has brought encouraging news: the Greek gunner said that in the coming days a raid on the city and the palace of the Turkish governor Seyid could be carried out. Accustomed to the strangeness of the commander’s character, the pirates are timid, forcing him into deep thought. Several stanzas follow with a detailed description of Konrad («Mysterious and forever lonely, / It seemed he could not smile»), inspiring admiration for heroism and fear - the unpredictable impulsiveness of a self-deceived, illusioned in the illusions («He is the hardest school among people - / Way disappointments - passed ») - in a word,

Beloved Conrad reciprocates; and one of the most penetrating pages in the poem is Medora’s love song and the scene of the farewell of the heroes before the campaign. Left alone, she finds no place for herself, as always worried about his life, and on the brig deck he gives out instructions to the team, fully prepared to carry out a daring attack - and win.

The second song takes us to the banquet hall in Seyed Palace. The Turks, for their part, have long been planning to completely clear the sea neighborhoods of pirates and divide up their rich prey in advance. The attention of Pasha is attracted by the mysterious dervish in tattered clothes, who appeared from a feast. He says that he was captured by the infidels and managed to escape from the captors, but he flatly refuses to taste the sumptuous dishes, referring to the vow given to the prophet. Suspecting a scout in him, Seid orders to seize him, and here the stranger instantly transforms: under the humble appearance of a wanderer, a warrior in armor was hiding and with a sword striking outright. The hall and the approaches to it are overwhelmed in the blink of an eye by Konrad's associates; a fierce battle boils: "The palace is on fire, the minaret is ablaze."

The ruthless pirate, who crushed the resistance of the Turks, however, shows genuine chivalry when the flames engulfing the palace spreads to the female half. He forbids his brother-in-arms to resort to violence against Pasha’s slaves and takes out the most beautiful of them, the black-eyed Gulnar, in his arms from the fire. Meanwhile, Seid, who escaped from the pirate blade in the confusion of the battle, organizes his numerous guards in a counterattack, and Konrad has to entrust Gulnar and her friends with misfortunes to the concerns of a simple Turkish house, and himself - to enter into an unequal confrontation. Around one by one his battered comrades fall; he, having cut off countless enemies, is barely alive captured.

Deciding to torture Conrad and terrible execution, the bloodthirsty Seid orders to put him in a tight casemate. The hero is not afraid of future trials; in the face of death he is worried only by one thought: «How will Medor's news, evil news?» He falls asleep on a stone bed, and when he wakes up, he finds in his dungeon secretly sneaking into the prison black-eyed Gulnar, completely captivated by his courage and nobility. Promising to persuade the pasha to postpone the impending execution, she offers to help the corsair escape. He hesitates: cowardly to flee from the enemy is not in his habits. But Medora ... After hearing his passionate confession, Gulnar sighs: «Alas! Love is free only! »

The third song opens the poetic author's declaration of love for Greece ("The beautiful city of Athens! Whoever saw the sunset / Your wondrous one will come back ..."), replaced by a picture of the Pirate Island, where Conrad waits in vain for Medora. A boat approaches the shore with the remains of his detachment, bringing terrible news, their leader is wounded and captured, the filibusters unanimously decide at all costs to rescue Conrad from captivity.

Meanwhile, Gyulnar’s persuasion to postpone the painful execution of «Giaur» has an unexpected effect on Seyid: he suspects that his beloved slave is not indifferent to the captive and is plotting treason. Showering the girl with threats, he expels her from the chambers.

Three days later, Gulnar once again enters the dungeon, where Conrad languishes. Offended by the tyrant, she offers the prisoner freedom and revenge: he must stab the pasha in the silence of the night. The pirate recoils; follows the woman’s excited confession: «Do not call revenge on a despot by villainy! / Your despicable enemy must fall in blood! / Have you flinched? Yes, I want to become different: / Alienated, offended - I take revenge! / I am unfairly accused: / Though a slave, I was faithful! »

«A sword - but not a secret knife!» Is Conrad’s counterargument. Gulnar disappears to appear at dawn: she herself committed revenge on the tyrant and bribed the guard; a boat and a boatman are waiting for them on the coast to deliver to the coveted island.

The hero is bewildered: in his soul - an irreconcilable conflict. By the will of circumstances, he owed the life of a woman in love with him, and he himself still loved Medora. Gulnar is also suppressed: in Conrad's silence she reads the condemnation of the crime she has committed. Only a fleeting hug and a friendly kiss of the prisoner she saved bring her to life.

On the island, pirates cheerfully greet the leader who has returned to them. But the price set by providence for the miraculous deliverance of the hero is incredible: only one window does not shine in the castle tower - the window of Medora. Tormented by a terrible foreboding, he climbs the stairs ... Medora is dead.

The sorrow of Conrad is inescapable. In solitude, he mourns his girlfriend, and then disappears without a trace: «A series of days passes, / No Konrad, he disappeared forever, / And not a single hint heralded, / Where he suffered, where he buried flour! / He was mourned by a gang only of his own; / His girlfriend was received by the mausoleum ... / He will live in the traditions of families / With one love, with a thousand villainies. " The finale of Corsair, like Giaura, leaves the reader alone with the feeling of a riddle not completely solved surrounding the entire existence of the protagonist.