‘The Firmness of a Female Hand’: The Active Heroines of the Tales

Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI:
‘The Firmness of a Female Hand’: The Active Heroines of the Tales

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Lord Byron's oriental heroine is the fought-over focus of the eternal triangle, situated between a Turkish tyrant and a debased would-be Western liberator. The obvious political allegory is a commonplace of modem criticism, and could be compared with a political cartoon. The association between the rights of woman and political freedom was forged in the revolutionary decade of the 1790s, when the concept of natural law was cited to challenge hierarchical authority. The heroine is not merely conventionally used as the genius of her country in the poems of William Blake and Byron, for the concept of femininity is central to the relationship between Romanticism and revolution. Blake's and Byron's female slaves are quintessential subjects, inferior in sex, lass, and colonised race. Byron breaks new ground in introducing another contrasting heroine, Gulnare, in The Corsair.

Keywords: Lord Byron; oriental heroine; political freedom; William Blake; Gulnare; The Corsair; femininity; female slaves

Chapter.  10149 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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