Prokosch’s Byron is a driven man, one who confides that “I kept searching for a deeper purpose,’ a spiritual call,’ a dedication.’ ” For a while he hopes to find fulfillment in his dedication to the cause of the Italian revolutionaries in their struggle against Austria. Yet he quickly understands that he is destined to a fruitless search for peace and that he is an exile whose “political ardour had a hollow ring to it.” His aspirations in his mission to Greece are futile right from the beginning, as he seems aware; the final mustering of energies expended in a spiritual void.
Toward the last he writes ruefully of the end of the “beautiful Byron,” a death that leaves only the “perverse and destructive and tortured Byron.” He describes himself as a “wayward” animal, both “childishly happy and childishly gloomy, childishly affectionate and childishly venomous.” In short, his motives are “transparent” because he is simply “a man who follows his instincts.” He returns to this self-analysis several days later, cataloging his qualities and explaining, “Every virtue contains its vice and every vice its own virtue.” He takes comfort in his conclusion that ultimately the great virtue is “animal integrity,” a complete acceptance and fulfillment of one’s animal self. He accepts Shelley’s judgment of him as “a shame-faced Manichean.” Immediately before he goes to Greece, however, he confides that he has no “definite or identifiable character” and that he is drawn to Greece...
(The entire section is 626 words.)