Did you ever wonder what catapulted Clint Eastwood to fame besides good looks?
Mr. Eastwood can thank Lord Byron for making him famous. Though Byron lived in the early 19th century, his Byronic hero was popular back then and still is. You can see this character played out in Mr. Eastwood’s westerns and detective films.
So what makes the Byronic hero so captivating?
- Take the law into their own hands
- Treat women like garbage
- Extract revenge on their enemies
- They are misanthropic and jaded
- They defy society and class
- They are isolated
- They are passionate
Pushkin captured the Byronic hero in the poem Eugene Onegin. Onegin, a Russian aristocrat, who has no purpose in life, burns himself out with pleasure. He sleeps with other men’s wives. He duels when he feels insulted. These are pastimes for him.
Emily Bronte used the Byronic hero when she created Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. When Heathcliff couldn’t have Catherine Earnshaw, he wreaked havoc on everyone he thought had wronged him. At that time, the British were very sensitive about social classes, which D.H. Lawrence writes about in his novels. Catherine Earnshaw never could have married out of her class, especially to a man of questionable means, no matter how rich or handsome he was. The prolific Catherine Cookson also writes about class in many of her novels.
Then why do Byronic heroes fascinate us?
If only we could take the law into our hands.
If only we could get revenge.
If only we could tell the boss off.
If only we could do whatever we wanted.