Friday, February 3, 2012

The Byronic Hero

In Romantic literature, the Byronic hero is an idealized but ultimately flawed character. In A Hero of Our Time, the compelling character Pechorin provides the audience with the embodiment of the Byronic hero. In our class discussions, we discussed about what kind of 'hero' is Pechorin and whether or not he should be considered an 'antihero'. A Byronic hero exudes certain characteristics and in many ways defies the social norm. The Byronic hero does not really possess any 'heroic virtue' in the usual sense. Instead, he has what many would consider dark qualities. Using Pechorin as an example, he is intelligent, cunning, cynical and arrogant. Unlike Pyotr in The Captain's Daughter, Pechorin is a character of contradiction. He provides the reader with a deep insight into his philosophy of life. Personally, I feel that he is one of the more interesting protagonist's that we will read about. So why exactly are we as readers constantly being drawn to these dark characters that contradict the idealized Romantic hero? 

There is a certain attraction to dark characters that defy the social norm. In the literary world, they are more dramatic, more colorful and more flaunted. Instead of being drawn to the idealized Romantic hero that does not exist, we are fascinated with characters like Pechorin. They keep us on our toes and do the unexpected. Of course, the Byronic hero is a popular choice for protagonists especially in the modern literary world. Lermontov invigorated the Byronic hero through Pechorin making him a character that some love to hate while others wish to understand. Although many would argue that Pechorin is an awful man (possibly a sadist), I feel that he is an example of what people are really like -- especially in 19th century Russian society. Regardless of what readers may think, Pechorin is an iconic character in Russian literature. 

“What if it does? If I die, I die. It will be a small loss to the world, and I’ve had about enough of it myself. I’m like a man yawning at a ball who doesn’t go home to bed because his carriage hasn’t come” (Lermontov, 131). 

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