The Byronic Hero

In ByronÕs poem, ÒChilde HaroldÕs PilgrimageÓ the main character is portrayed as a dark brooding man, who doesnÕt like society and wants to escape from the world because of his discontent with it. Through the poem we see the strong resemblance the Byronic hero has to many of todays popular characters, such as Batman.

In the third stanza of the poem we learn that Childe Harold is the product of a long line of nobility. ÒChilde Harold, was he hight-but whence his name and lineage long.Ó Bruce Wayne who is Batman is too the product of an extremely wealthy family. As with Bruce Wayne, Childe Harold is bothered by his family ties. ÒBut one sad lose ruins the name for ay.Ó This line shows that Childe Harold is upset with the reputation that he has inherited from his family. Just as Bruce Wayne d Üoes Childe Harold strives to break this mold and become someone who isnÕt associated with the likes of his ancestors. In Childe HaroldÕs case he breaks this mold by running away from his fatherÕs castle and exploring nature. Bruce Wayne on the other hand invents himself a new identity that differs in every way from the preset mold into which he was born.

In the fourth stanza Harold tells us that Childe Harold is unhappy and upset with the society around him. ÒThen loathed he in his native land to dwell, which seemed to him more lone than EremiteÕs sad cell.Ó Childe Harold is extremely miserable with the societyin which he is forced to live. He feels so isolated that he compares his life to that of a hermitÕs. Stanza ten reads ÒIf he had friends, he bade adieu to none.Ó This proves that Childe Harold did not have many friends, and if he did their friendship was not highly valued. Bruce Wayne too comes across as an extremely depressed and alone individual. He has n ×o friends in the films, except for Alfred his butler. Both characters share the same feeling of disassociation. Neither has the desire to associate with others than themselves.

There is a woman in the lives of Childe HaroldÕs life and Bruce Wayne. ÒHad sighed to many but though he loved but one, and that loved one, alas could neÕer be his.Ó This woman as explained in the passage is the only woman that Childe Harold will think about. Although he has had the chance for many others one woman will always win his affection. The one problem with this love is that the woman for whom he strives can never be his. In Bruce Wayne's case Michelle Pheifer is the woman whom he loves. Although he would do anything for her she never seems to show a great interest toward him. Every time he seems to have the chance to win her over something intervenes, and his chance is taken away.

Out of his disgust and discontent with society Childe Harold leaves to find another way of ÿ life. ÒAnd eÕen for change of scene would seek the shades below. The Childe departed from his fatherÕs hall.Ó He flees the society and place in which he lives to seek something better in nature. Bruce Wayne as well leaves the protection of his extravagant life to become something other than himself. Both these characters escape in hope to find something more fulfilling and interesting than the society that they are forced to live. Although this is a good reason for leaving both men have a secret past that they care not to share with others. This past may be the reason for their discontent and unrest.

We are told of Childe HaroldÕs secretive past in stanza eight. ÒOften times in his maddest mirthful mood strange pangs would flash along Childe HaroldÕs brow, as if the memory of some deadly feud or disappointed passion lurked below.Ó Childe Harold does indeed have a dark past. Although the nature of his past is never directly stated, it seems to have something to do with his family. Bruce Wayne ÷suffers from the same affliction. His past is haunted by the murder of his parents when he was young. His dark past is what caused him to take on the alternate life. In this alternate life he is able to fight against villains similar to the ones who killed his parents.

In contrast to both Childe HaroldÕs and Bruce WayneÕs passion for the unknown, we see in both characters someone who enjoys beauty. Byron describes Childe HaroldÕs moment in which he witnesses a sunset in stanza thirteen. ÒBut when the sun was sinking into the sea he seized his harp, which he at times could string, and strike, albeit with untaught melody.Ó We see Childe HaroldÕs feelings towards beauty. When he witnesses this sunset he begins to strum his harp. Bruce Wayne as ˆ well has a taste for beauty. In the first movie a reporter and Michelle Pheifer are talking in a room that he has filled with art from around the world. The reporter makes an ignorant comment and Bruce Wayne is quick to step in and defend his liking for the art by correcting the reporters ignorance.

Batman and the character of Bruce Wayne are influenced greatly by the traits of the Byronic hero. Both characters share a bad ancestry, a dislike for society, a woman that they lust for but can not have, a dark and secretive past, the love for art and beauty, and the decision to take on a different lifestyle in order to escape the society they dislike to much. These factors make the foundation of these two characters almost identical. There can be no doubt that the character that Byron created in ÒChilde HaroldÕs PilgrimageÓ was directly linked to the forming of the character

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Mann Erudite – Essays on Literary Works