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Romantic Hero: Role of memory and past

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andri christofides

on 25 November 2013

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Transcript of Romantic Hero: Role of memory and past

Romantic Hero: The Role of Memory and Past in Shaping National Identity

main themes
resistance against an unfair world
devotion for the motherland
the undeserved suffering in a foreign world
to create a national myth that promotes moral responsibility to the motherland
to enhance the patriotic mentality and spirituality
Two Romantic Heroes
How has their past
shaped them?
Language inhibits his full immersion in the new environment and maintains a distance between him and Amy. He cannot be separated from that which defines him- his Polishness

'He spoke to her, and his passionate remonstrances only increased her fear of that strange man' p.24
Memory: Burden or a Blessing?
Overall, memory seems to be a blessing to both our heroic figures, it is a way of defining their characters in their new environments. However, language does seem to result in the downfall of our two heroes. As Yanko was described as living among the dead, and skavinski was happy to carry his Polish books, readers are given the impression that it is better to carry home with you and have that sense of belonging, than try to remove your national heritage in an attempt to fit in.
Although Sienkiewicz seems to suggest that the Romantic ideal is getting old, with the elderly Skavinski, he also mentions an 'awakening', so Polish patriotism is something to cling to. Conrad, being an exile writer, shows the importance of hybridism - in maintaining his 'Polishness' while also being a part of England...
Importance of Romanticism
in Eastern European Literature
Moral Support

for exiles and the oppressed, i.e. Yanko's attachment to his native language and Skavinski's excitement when finding the polish book

Romantic Ideology proposes a strong focus on
A good Catholic Pole must be God fearing & Emphasis on Messianism, i.e. in the face of Yanko

Romantic writers are seen as
spiritual leaders
and acquire a sense of authority in society
Ambivalence in Romanticism
Romanticism has received criticism because of its intense emphasis on spirituality:

It is said to focus too much on the abstract qualities of people and less so on the material conditions which sometimes seem equally, if not more important

Nevertheless, as Gardner supports, 'The national literature of Poland has been the mouthpiece of a noble idea; but neither its beauty nor its art have been sacrificed even to the greater passion of patriotism' (The Slavonic Review (1925), Vol. 3, No. 9, pp. 524)
Emphasis on
The romantic hero is a figure of isolation, representing patriotism and martyrdom in Poland, contributing to its sense of ethnocentrism. They have dual identities, being within and without a community, creating a hybrid which leaves them in no-mans-land...
"The lighthouse keeper is almost a prisoner, ...it is the life of a monk, of a hermit"
- Guiding others, while sacrificing freedom

"He could talk to no one and had no hope of understanding anybody" (p.17)

- Language isolates him - becomes his own world
- Inside yet forever outside, having hybrid, dual identity

"He was different: innocent of heart, and full of good will, which nobody wanted, this castaway..."
Skavinski: "All that a lighthouse keeper comes in contact with is gigantic devoid of definitely outlined forms. The sky is one whole, the water another and between two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness" (p.707)
- conveys loss of identity, how a hybrid is developed, disrupting two initial identities.
- suggests being in Limbo, transitory stage of incertitude, of being in between.
Yanko: "It was as if these had been faces of... dead people... who are possessed of a knowledge beyond the comprehension of living..." (p.17)
- Purgatory, buried alive, isolation
- Ethnocentric: he's alive
while those in England
are dead.
Yanko"Gooral": a mountaineer - exotic, romantic figure.
- said to be descendants from Polish Kings
exotic figures, isolationsists
- yet mountains bordered three other countries - already a blurring of identity
"His eyes began to stare like the eyes of a child, and were as if fixed on something at a distance" (p.709)
"Three boys confessed... throwing stones at a funny tramp..." (p. 9)
- Messianism, allusion to biblical suffering
Skavinski: "This old soldier, tempered, God knows in how many fires, hardened in suffering, hammering and forged, had the heart of a child." (p.705)
- Martyrdom
- suffering refines being
- innocence
Skavinski: "I received this cross in 1830. This from the Carlist War; this from the French legion, the fourth in Hungary..."
a gallant soldier" (p. 703)
A true patriot: a war hero, epitomizes the Romantic figure despite his fighting for other countries.
Old soldier - the romantic figure is old now too?
Romantic heroes said to increase a Polish idea of ethnocentrism, this is perhaps emphasized by the isolation of the Heroic characters.
- Lacking bitterness despite suffering, yet isolated by it.
- innocence
- still a sense of seeking home
The Authors' Past
"The aim of literature should be to
comfort the heart ... to give readers
a colourful yarn."
H. Sienkiewicz
"Built as his life was upon the
imputation of betrayal, linguistic
dislocation, shifting cosmopolitan
influences, and the consequent
search for supporting social and
intellectual traditions."
O. Knowles
Framing of
Romantic Heroes
by Andri Christofides, Amber Gibson and Ruth Smithers
lighthouse is his ideal place to rest even if it is away from home BUT when he sees the polish books he is reminded of his home- sense of belonging is in turmoil

'The book was Polish,- what did that mean?...that was for him something uncommon, a certain breath from past times, a kind of miracle’ p.710
Power of Language
Past Experiences
Traveled a lot which could be seen as liberating, hardships made him wise and stoic

'after so many disappointments he was ever full of confidence and did not lose hope' p. 705

BUT this eventually intensified the feeling of not belonging

'‘in presence of a surrounding uncommonly simple and great, the old man was losing the feeling of personality; he was ceasing to exist as an individual, was becoming merged more and more in that which inclosed him’ p.709
Polish customs held dearly by him intensify his position as an outcast in the English society

'one evening...he upset them all by singing a love song of his country. They hooted him down and he was pained' p.21

other examples include his dance at the bar, and the green ribbon he offered to Amy as a gift
"Three boys confessed afterwards to
throwing stones at a funny tramp."
"His foreignness had a
peculiar and indelible stamp."
"All these peculiarities were, as one may say, so many causes of scorn and offence to the inhabitants of the village."
"Skavinski had the great calm power of resistance which comes from truth of heart."
"From time to time he was weighed down by a terrible homesickness which was roused by any circumstance."
"So loved, so dear, so beautiful! In the sobbing which shook him there was no pain - only a suddenly aroused immense love."
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