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Lord Byron and Childe Harold's PIlgrimage

a presentation on Lord Byron, his life, and poem interpretations

Bridget Thompson

on 18 January 2013

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Transcript of Lord Byron and Childe Harold's PIlgrimage

Lord Byron: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" Lord Byron: Biography Full Name: George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th Baron Byron.
Born in January 22, 1788, to Captain John Byron and Catherine Gordon, and spent his childhood in Aberdeenshire.
He was born with a club foot, which he was sensitive of and suffered pain from throughout his life.
At the age of 10, he inherited a fortune from his great uncle.
He attended Trinity College (Cambridge), accumulated many debts (like his dad), and had some bisexual love affairs.
During his life, he also had an eating disorder and exercised all the time.
His first collection of poetry, Hours of Idleness, came out in 1807. He responded to the bad reviews by writing a satire, "English Bards and Scottish Reviewers."
In 1809, he joined the House of Lords in England. He then embarked on a grand tour with Hobhouse and he visited Portugal, Spain, Albania, and Greece.
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was published in 1812.
Seeking escape from his personal troubles, he proposed to and wed Anne Isabella Milbanke in January 1814. Anne gave birth to a daughter, Augusta Ada, late that same year. However, troubles with his wife, piled-up debts, and "relations" with his half sister Augusta Leigh, caused his wife to take their daughter to her mother's house, never to return.
After the legal separation, Byron fled England, never to return. Childe Harold's Journey Childe Harold's Farewell Harold's Pilgrimage The poem is written in four cantos, or parts. It is essentially a short story, though.
Each stanza is written in the rhyme scheme ABABBCBCC.
It is about a young man who is tired of all the Napoleonic wars and troubles in England, so he decides to move on and travel to new places.
The poem reflects on the current struggles and broken conditions of Western Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. It is about personal, political, and poetic freedom too.
"Childe" is a term that refers to a young man eligible for knighthood.
Many questioned Byron's title for Harold, as Harold's character is not very chivalrous. Byron responded that the past was romanticized and many knights had un-noble and bad behavior.
Many critics interpret Lord Byron's Poem as a reflection of his life, troubles, views, and travels. This is because he wrote the poem in 1812, right after his grand tour with Hobhouse from the House of Lords.
Even though this is so, as more of the narration comes through the author than normal, it is not always the case. Byron defended that the poem was not a complete reflection of his life.
Byron was an English Romantic, along with other poets, such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. He embraced the ideas of finding truth, greatness, and ideals in nature. However, he was more focused on taking action, not just the self-focus. The Byronic Hero Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is the first example of a text that has what is called the "Byronic Hero," one of Byron's great, long-lasting contributions to literature.
A Byronic hero is one who is intelligent, attractive, and socially dominant. However, they are also defiant, have trouble with authority, and are cunning and deceitful. They suffer from a problem/trouble/crime (sometimes unnamed) in their past.
A Byronic hero is also charismatic, mysterious, and sophisticated, but struggles with integrity and is rebellious, cynical, moody, and world-weary. He or she is also treated as somewhat of an outcast in society.
Byron's other works, such as Don Juan, also have a Byronic hero.
The Byronic hero is also somewhat based on of the character of George Gordon Noel Byron himself.
Examples of other texts/movies with a Byronic hero include Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, and Michael Corleone in The Godfather. Lisbon, Portugal Spain Greece The poem begins with Childe Harold reflecting on why he feels he needs to leave his homeland. He is sad to leave, but knows he must. Mostly he believes he must leave because of a crime or trouble that he got into but does not specify.
There is a woman he loved, but he cannot have her, so he believes it is best for her too that he departs.
He visits his home, and he knows that his mother and sister will probably be the only ones who miss him, besides his acquaintances, who only stay with him for monetary and other such benefits.
As he is reflecting on his memories, he begins to rethink leaving England. However, when he silently sees other people weeping by he sea for their troubles, he knows he must act on his despair and travel abroad.
Before he departs, he sings a song of "Farewell" to his native land. Bibliography So What? Harold as The Byronic Hero How Does This Relate to Byron's Life? Portrait: http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1366&bih=493&tbm=isch&tbnid=YVilRf3qUc5pOM:&imgrefurl=http://englishhistory.net/byron/images.html&docid=5u3FL49c1Ed52M&imgurl=http://englishhistory.net/byron/images/byronwestall.jpg&w=281&h=375&ei=fwPzUMGTJ6fY2gXUqYCICA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=190&sig=108642057062339657011&page=1&tbnh=140&tbnw=102&start=0&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:117&tx=64&ty=20

Map of 1812 Europe: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.wikia.com/genealogy/images/d/d4/Europe_map_1812.PNG&imgrefurl=http://familypedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:Europe_map_1812.PNG&h=565&w=800&sz=119&tbnid=cfuejfygppa0QM:&tbnh=85&tbnw=121&zoom=1&usg=__STw6fy96gVeosnQuPYTRbSnewtg=&docid=NESA3XipuHF1QM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4QPzUI6tFqfo2gXk1YGwDA&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAA&dur=342


Byronic Hero traits:
http://rwtverio.ncte.org/lesson_images/lesson1148/ByronicTraits.pdf First, Byron went to Switzerland, where he stayed with his good acquaintance Percy Bysshe Shelley. Also there was Shelley's protege, William Godwin, his wife, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Godwin's stepdaughter, Claire Clairmont (whom Byron has an affair with). It was in Switzerland where Byron wrote a third canto for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
Later, after the Shelley party left for England, Byron soon left for Italy. He had a couple of love affairs there too. After joining Hobhouse in Rome, and looking at the ruins, he was inspired to write a fourth canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
He fell deeply in love with Countess Teresa Guicciolo, who was 19 and married to an older man. He followed the Countess to Ravenna, where he had one of the most productive periods of his life.
When he was feeling a little depressed and bored, he sought some action and accepted an offer to be an agent of the London Greek Committee in 1823 to aid them in independence against the Turks.
He donated money to the cause and soon headed an army of rebels.
However, he soon fell ill, and after a while it caught up with him. He died in April 1824. His ashes weren't buried in Westminster Abbey until 1969. Back to Spain! At first, from a distance, Harold notes and appreciates the beauty of the Portugal landscape. He wonders what ungodly people would want to damage this land, and he notes its current state of disarray after the wars. Once entered, the city appears especially unclean.
He then talks of a convent which is known for the faithful monks and criminals
Nearby he sees crosses that are not "devotion's offering" but memorials. He grieves for the victims who were killed in the area.
Even though he talks of Portugal's loss of glory with a gloomy tone, he still finds beauty in it.
Harold then scoffs at the Convention of Cintra, where the British allies of Portugal allowed French enemies to escape. It has ruined the Brit's reputation.
Even though he liked visiting Portugal, he grows tired of it and soon flees.
What Harold saw Portugal made him rethink whether he misspent his youth, but as he continues on across his travels in the pretty lands, he forgets his regrets. Rebellious, troublesome behavior: "But spent his days in riot most uncouth, " I. ii.
Suffers from past crime: "But one sad losel soils a name for aye, / However mighty in the olden time; / Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay. / Nor florid prose, nor honed lines of rhyme / Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime," I. iii.
World-weary, struggles with his character: "In sooth he was a shameless wight, / Sore given to revel and ungodly glee; / Few earthly things found favour in his sight," I ii.
Feels isolated, even though socially has many admirers:"And none did love him: though to hall and bower/ He gather'd revellers from far and near. / He knew them flatterers of the festal hour; / The heartless parasites of present cheer," I. ix.
Romantic, attractive: "Nor made atonement when he did amiss. / Had sigh'd to many, though he loved but one. / And that loved one, alas, could ne'er be his. / Ah happy she! to 'scape from him whose kiss / Had been pollution unto aught so chaste," I v.
Enjoys a good time, but yet feels isolated: "Yet to the beauteous form he was not blind, / Though now it moved him as it moves the wise; ... Had buried long his hopes, no more to rise: / Pleasure's pall'd victim! life-abhorring gloom / Wrote on his faded brow curst Cain's unresting doom," I. lxxxiii.
Intelligence: "Through many a clime 'tis mine to go, / With many a retrospection curst; / And all my solace is to know, / Whate'er betides I've known the worst," I. (ode to inez). Personal Life: "Childe Harold had a mother--not forgot. / Though parting from that mother he did shun," I. x.
Personal Character: "And then, it may be, of his wish to roam/ Repented he, but in his bosom slept/ The silent thought, nor from his lips did come' One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept, And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept," I. xii.
Personal Character: “All join the chase, but few the triumph share: / The Grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,” I. xl.
Romanticism: "So deem'd the Childe, as o'er the mountains he / Did take his way in solitary guise: / Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to flee, ... And conscious reason whisper'd to despise / His early youth misspent in maddest whim; / But as he gazed on Truth, his aching eyes grew dim," I xxvii.
Romanticism: "Oft have I dreamed of thee! whose glorious name / Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore: / And now I view thee, 'tis alas, with shame / That I in feeblest accents must adore. When I recount thy worshipers of yore I tremble, and can only bend the knee;" I. lxi
Political Beliefs: “And must they fall—the young, the proud, the brave--/ To swell one bloated chief’s unwholesome reign? / No step between submission and a grave? The rise of rapine and the fall of Spain?” I. liii.
Political Views:"Fallen nations gaze on Spain: if freed, she frees / More than her fell Pizarros once enchain'd," I. lxxxix. Childe Harold sees the lands of Spain unfold, and remarks on its current political situation: "compass'd by unyielding foes, / And all must shield their all, or share / Subjection's woes," I. xxxi.
He briefly stops in Lusitania to sadly and sorrowfully think of the state of its queen.
Harold talks about Spain and its current situation with France and independence. He can see that Spain’s beauteous lands are no more. He thinks Spain should have independence, but knows that they are basically going to fall to France: “Destruction cowers, to mark what deeds are done,”I.xxxix.
He notes the people’s tireless work and subjection to the enemy, but at the same time he admires their tenacity.
“Enough of Battle’s minions! Let them play / Their game of lives, and barter breath for fame. Fame / that will scarce reanimate their clay. / Though thousands fall to deck some single name,” I. xliv.
He discusses how the Spanish women are still capable of great things and courage, even though not born/meant to be warriors Harold takes in and admires Greek's wonders--forgetting about Spain's horrific state: "Match me, ye harems of the land! where now I strike my strain, far distant, to applaud / Beauties that even a cynic must avow," I. lix.
Harold feels honored and grateful to have visited this forever classical and ancient land. However, he realizes that the modernness, fascination, and potential of Spain is one he appreciates more at the moment, and cannot get it out of his head, so he returns to Spain. Harold participates in Spanish social experiences, such as a tournament with jousting and a bull fight.
In Spain, there are joyous, passionate youth and pretty maidens surround him; Harold wants to join in, but he feels too isolated and woeful to do so.
There is then an ode "To Inez," where Harold answers to her that he is feeling gloomy because of his weariness and loneliness to the world around him. He wishes others to not "awake" to the darkness he feels--but continue to see the world through their eyes of enjoyment.
Harold talks of Spain's bravery of fighting for independence and hopes for their peoples' freedom.
At the end of the first Canto, Harold reminds us that the point of his narrative is to describe the current terrible state of Western Europe. The Canto ends with Harold leaving Spain to return to Classical Greece.
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