25 February 2010

The Flawed Hero: Lord Byron, Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester

The literary characters of Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester are both Byronicheroes. Yorkshire writers Emily (1818 – 1848) and Charlotte Brontë (1816 –1855) were influenced bythe poetry of the English Romantic Lord Byron (1788 –1824). Byron as described by his ex-loverLady Caroline Lamb, was "mad,bad and dangerous to know". Helooks the part of the flawed hero in the moody green portrait by French Romantic Jean-Louis-André Théodore Géricault. The painter merged art with life by dying a slow lingering death from anuntreated riding injury at the age of thirty-two. Géricault was painted by colleague HoraceVernet, the portrait seems to foretell his fate. The German born Fritz Eichenberg(1901–1990) illustrated the haunting Heathcliffunder the Tree for a 1943 edition of WutheringHeights. A brooding Mr. Rochester on horseback is by contemporary Portuguese artist PaulaFigueiroa Rego. Eichenberg who was Jewish escaped from Hitler'sGermany to America and Rego who now lives in England grew up during António de Oliveira Salazar's authoritarian regime. They could both identify with the outcast hero.


  1. Always great to read your blog, Kendra. The Irish continue to inspire every aspect of the arts.
    I hope you and your readers have a chance to appreciate the work of Jack Yeats, brother of William Butler Yeats, and considered by many, the greatest Irish Painter of the 2oth century

  2. Thank you Connor for your post. I am familiar with Jack's work but have always been so caught up with WB as my father would read me his poems when I was a child. I always find myself returning to his magical imagery. Kind regards, Kendra

  3. I have not somehow seen this Byron portrait and I am transfixed. Ross Woodman's book, Sanity, Madness, and Transformation is a riveting Jungian account of the Romantic Poets. You are encouraging me to take up the book again and read it for the third time.


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