Il ribelle di Byron
The romantic hero introduced by Byron is a mysterious man: there is a secret in his past, some horrible sin, a fatal mistake, something unforgivable. He is an outcast: everybody can feel the presence of a shade in his past, but nobody knows what is really hidden behind the veil of time, and the romantic hero never unveils his secret. His past is wrapped in mystery as in a royal cloak; he is solitary, silent, inaccessible. He is under the shade if damnation and ruin and he is ruthless to himself as well as to everyone else- He cannot give forgiveness and never asks for mercy, abandoned as is by God and Men alike. He regrets nothing, never does he repent; in spite of his hopeless life he would change nothing in his past. He is wild and rough in his manners but he is of noble birth; his face is hard and impenetrable but beautiful. His power of fascination is as strong as strange: no woman can resist him, while men either give him friendship or extreme hostility. Destiny runs after him and he becomes destiny for anyone he meets.
Dissomigliante da gli antichi eroi
Ch’eran démoni a l’opre, angeli al volto,
265 Poco il sembiante di Corrado avea
Che notevol paresse, ancor che l’arco
De le sue nere sopracciglia un guardo
Adombrasse di foco.
Unlike the heroes of each ancient race,
Demons in act, but Gods at least in face,
265 ln Conrad’s form seems little to admire,
Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire.
The motif of rebellion was shared by other poets, notably Shelley: both poets were inspired by the myth of Prometheus, the Titan who challenged Jupiter and stole fire mankind and is also considered the symbol of the power of human reason.
The Byronic hero
Manfred is the supreme example of the Byronic hero: proud and independent, living as a perpetual exile, unable to conform to society, and considering himself different from other men, living by his own values. Byrons innovation is that Manfred, unlike Faust, rejects the offer of a pact with the devil. He does this not because he chooses heaven instead but because he is totally autonomous; the Romantic hero can do without God and the devil.