The Macksey Journal


Having studied the major works of the Romantic poet Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), I have become familiar with his unique and passionate language of rebellion and tracked its presence in literature from the Victorian Era (1837-1901) all the way to our contemporary moment. I have spent time working closely with the Byronic hero in the context of Byron’s own writing instead of the Victorian adaptations of his hero; something that has not been done often or at length previously. His heroes are self-exiled figures casting an ultra-critical eye on their society, while simultaneously looking inward at the faults of the self. I contend that Byron’s poetic project is to create a new morality, which I call Byronic morality, as distinct from that of his social milieu; one that is focused on principles of truth, knowledge, and rebellion against corruption and convention in his society. His Byronic hero, frequently adapted and incorporated into many literary works, spreads this Byronic morality across generations of writers and readers. He creates a space for spirituality that serves the individual, promotes knowledge and truth, and reveres nature. In my thesis, I engage in a detailed study of Byron’s poetic project that begins with but is not limited to a study of the Byronic hero. By situating his hero back in the worlds that Byron creates, I hope to highlight a large piece of Byron’s argument which has been previously neglected. The second phase of my project, previewed in my conference presentation will analyze the emergence of Byronic morality in Pullman’s trilogy, and consider how his series can illuminate Byron’s project as well.