How Romantic Is Byron'S Canto Iii Of 'Childe Harrold'S Pilgrimage'

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How ‘Romantic’ is Canto III? The ‘Romantic’ period in English Literature occurred in the early 1800s and Byron was the epitome of the Romantic hero. He travelled to ‘exotic’ places, he wrote passionate poetry which stirred peoples’ imagination. Whilst he was in Italy and then in Greece he wrote the long narrative poem ‘Childe Harolde’s Pilgrimage’ between 1812 and 1818 which describes the journey and thoughts of a young man who is looking for distraction through travel and who is disillusioned with his former life of pleasure. It consists of four cantos written in Spencerian Stanzas, which consists of eight iambic pentameter lines followed by one alexandrine (a twelve syllable iambic line), and rhyme pattern ABABBCBCC. The Byronic hero is the epitome of the Romantic era and the poem introduced the idea of the Byronic hero so it is safe to say that it is quite ‘Romantic’ in character. ‘Romantic’ comes from the term ‘romance’ – a prose or poetic heroic narrative which originally appeared in medieval literature. It legitimised the personal imagination as a critical force which meant that not only could poets write about everything but that ordinary people could criticise literature and poetry and have a voice. Romanticists had some connection with Utopian social thinkers who believed in an ideal ‘fair’ society. Romanticism was partially a reaction to the previous ‘Augustan’ period (St Augustine was one of the stricter Church Fathers and this period of formality in the arts was named after him), the French Revolution, the US revolution and the rise of industry and science and produced the ‘free thinker’ that we meet when we read romantic poetry, both in the poem itself and in the form of the poet. The emphasis on Romanticism was on strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, not just as an emotional one. Romanticism elevated nature, custom, ritual and
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