‘A Soulless Toy for Tyrant's Lust?’: The Heroine as Passive Victim

Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI:
‘A Soulless Toy for Tyrant's Lust?’: The Heroine as Passive Victim

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In Lord Byron's tales, the heroine has to choose between love and conformity. However, this chapter shows that Byron deconstructs the romantic love of man for woman as the uneasy conjunction of these two impulses, by his ironic comparison of the Eastern and Western male view of women. The series of tales evolves through creative ongoing experimentation with the presentation of sexual relationships, rather than the repetition of a static dualism resulting either from the poet's own sexual obsessions or from his cynical cashing-in on a successful formula. Byron's earliest heroines — Leila, Zuleika, Francesca, Medora, and Parisina — are characterised chiefly by their passivity, sensibility, and tragic deaths. Like the muses of Byron's lyric poetry, these heroines are objects of the male gaze — the feminine other.

Keywords: Lord Byron; heroines; love; conformity; women; sexual relationships; feminine other; lyric poetry

Chapter.  13197 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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