‘My Hope Was to Bring Forth Heroes’: The Fostering of Masculine <i>Virtù</i> by the Stoical Heroines of the Political Plays

Caroline Franklin

in Byron's Heroines

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780198112303
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670763 | DOI:
‘My Hope Was to Bring Forth Heroes’: The Fostering of Masculine Virtù by the Stoical Heroines of the Political Plays

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In both Marino Faliero and The Two Foscari, Lord Byron's heroes exemplify that notion of self-controlled manliness which emanated from an 18th-century interpretation of the classical tradition of Stoicism. The virtue — or more properly virtù — of a great man guaranteed that public life was free from the corruption of the feminine. In both the Venetian plays, therefore, the sexual temptation of women must be repressed — Faliero's marriage is platonic. Marino Faliero's actions are designed to demonstrate the interrelatedness of masculine virtù and feminine virtue in the gendered republic. The women of the Venetian plays are proud, aristocratic republican matrons. In both plays Byron attempts to innovate by giving the heroine a more lofty role than merely the focusing of pity. Angiolina and Marina are articulate, rational, and in control of their emotions. The ‘feminine’ subjectivity of the heroines of the plays now lies in their capacity for value judgement.

Keywords: Marino Faliero; The Two Foscari; Lord Byron; Stoicism; virtù; virtue; pity; heroines; value judgement; women

Chapter.  15283 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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