How does Childe Harold's Pilgrimage lines 1031-1102 reflect the romantic characteristic that places emphasis on the value of the unique individual?


Lord Byron

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Stanza 113 provides a good example.  Harold (in soliloquy, so to speak) discusses how he has not "loved the world, nor the world [him]."  The reason is that he has refused to bow to social conventions, to do what the world expects of him.  This has caused him unhappiness--he calls his thoughts "a shroud"--but he cannot help being what he is.  In the midst of his melancholy, there is the hope that he'll achieve happiness at some point, but it is an individualistic happiness that would seem to be impossible on this earth.  At best, one might achieve a sort of state of nature existence as in Rousseau.

The sort of individualism that separates one from almost all of one's fellow men--it's not accidental Harold's daughter is mentioned at the end of the selection and that he'll never get to be near her--is a hallmark of this type of Romanticism.  Harold is the first example of the dark, brooding, mysterious, and dangerous hero that came to be called "Byronic."

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