George Gordon, Lord Byron

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George Gordon, Lord Byron

He was born in London in January 1788. He was the son of John Byron a descendent of a Norman family. John was an eccentric and libertine person and he wasted the fortune of his first wife, with whom he had a child, Augusta, and also the once of the second, who was the mother of the poet.
This second marriage wasn’t for Byron a happy event and after he squandered all his wife money he escaped in France in order to run away from his creditors. The mother of Byron was a passionate woman, with a moody character. Byron was very influenced by his parent’s personality: in fact he was a rebel and instable person; also his tutor influenced him a lot: he was Calvinist and motivated also his pupil in this religion; so Byron believed in predestination to transgression and damnation.
He was a very fascinating man, very able in many sports (like swimming, riding, boxing, cricketing), but however he suffered for a sense if inferiority because of he was born lame.
However after a not very happy childhood, because of some family troubles, he spent a better period after his uncle death. In fact he solved his financial problems thanks to his uncle’s heredity; he also got the title from him. This event changed a lot the life of the poet that was allowed to study at harrow and Cambridge. His life continued to be very irregular and he dissipated lot of money. He however got a degree in 1808.
He published his first volume when he was still at the university and it collected under the title Hour of Idleness some lyrics. They were attacked and so he wrote in order to answer at accuse with a satirical poem: English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.
In 1809 he left for a journey to Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece and Turkey. He came back in England two years later and he contacted Rogers and Moore, who introduced him in the Whig society of London.
In 1812 and 1813 he pushed two works that made him very popular: in fact they emphasize the image of him like a romantic lover anguished by depression and scepticism.
He got married with Anne Isabella Milbanke and had a child, but his wife after a year asked for the separation; in fact he used to have a wrong behaviour and probably had a story with his half-sister. This event make Byron reputation got smaller so that he had to left England. He travelled for the rest of his life.
He spent some times in Switzerland where he had a love story with Shelly’s sister and he also had a child. But later he moved to Italy where he settled in Venice spent a period of hard working; he had lots of love affair: the most important was with Countess Guiccioli.
Then he moved to Ravenna where he took part at the Carbonari conspiracy. After the failure of this plot he was obliged to move, first in Pisa and later in Genoa. There he became a member of the London Greek Committee; he was so much interested at this activity that he decided to support with his presence the Greek campaign.
He died there because of a fever in 1824.

Features and themes
Byron shows a double personality that we can see also in is works.In fact there were some rational and ideal elements. He was also very attracted by glorious thing and this aspect of his character was appreciated by the society of the period because it was one of the main aspects of the period the heroic ideal.
Also in his poetry we can find two different tendencies: the romantic and the satirical.

Byron the romantic
Byron can be considered a romantic poet in
• His life: he was an aristocratic and he dedicated all his life in poetry and political activities, he had lots of sentimental stories and because of it he was rejected by the society and he had to left his country and spend the rest of his life in a sort of exile.
• His worship of liberty and his rebellion against every sort of oppressive authority:
• His Titanism that we can see in his wild passions.
• His Satanism for example hi appreciation for Milton’s Satan;
• His individualism in fact poetry presents himself under the name and the features of a character.
• His melancholy that derived from his Calvinist conception and from the relative idea of predestination;
• His interest in history of the past periods;
• His nationalism that we can see in his attention for the situation of the Italians and the Greeks;
• His love for nature considered as a sort of mirror for his feelings: he preferred to describe some natural phenomena than his feelings;
• His taste for exoticism and Gothicism;
• His attention at the contrast between dream and reality;
• His impatience that led him to travel a lot during his life;
• His realization of the so-called of Byronic Hero, as we can see in the picture of Conrad:

The Byronic hero
In this passage we can find a detailed description of Conrad: he is a taciturn pirate and the readers don’t know anything else about him except the fact that he is oh high family. He smiles in a strange way, just like if he isn’t really happy and his eyes never lights up. Probably a deep pain because of sentimental reasons that changed his mood caused his apparent insensibility. In fact he is presented like a unworldly person and he considers himself as a victim of the society; every thing that he does is not because of a sense of humanity but quite by a desire of do something different by other people.
He lives isolated by the society, and he doesn’t allow anybody to enter in contact with him: in fact he is always very cold and distant with everyone.
But the image that Byron presents in this passage of Conrad is very similar to the image that he want to give to other people of him; in fact with his behaviour he creates a stereotype of “hero” that is very similar to his main characters. In fact there lots of similarity between the Byronic hero and Milton’s Satan or some others heroes of the Gothic novel; in fact they share together some features: they are mysterious and dark men, with lots of troubles and who probably during the past had been the protagonists of some secret event; they often were also in love for a woman but in the end they control their passions.
There are also some similarity with Shakespearian heroes: but while in Shakespeare his characters were punished for their behaviour in Byron they are considered as a victim of the fate (according with the Calvinist theory of the predestination); but like Milton’s Satan he preserved his dignity that makes of him a great man even after death.