Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI:

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This book shows that, whereas the various manifestations of the famous ‘Byronic hero’ remain fairly consistent in outline, Lord Byron's female characters range from the eroticised passive victim of patriarchal force to the masculinised woman-warrior, from the romantic heroine of sentiment to the sexually voracious virago or the chaste republican matron, and so the list goes on. Byron was constantly experimenting with the representation of women. His female characters cannot be reduced to one single prototype or ‘Byronic heroine’. The purpose in studying these heroines is to relate this male writer's ongoing experimentation with the depiction of women to contemporary ideologies of sexual difference, and to indicate the political significance of this early 19th-century dialectic on the nature of woman, as it relates to class and gender. The book is relevant to contemporary feminism, in that it would argue that historicism is central to feminist literary and cultural analysis, in charting the processes of gender formation.

Keywords: Lord Byron; Byronic heroine; women; sexual difference; feminism; gender formation

Chapter.  4170 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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