The Byron Journal

‘My slumbers—if I slumber—are not sleep’: The Byronic Hero’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The Byron Journal (2019), 47, (2), 153–163.

Abstract

Since its creation, the Byronic hero has become the emblem of a tortured soul, and though his characteristics have been appropriated by hundreds of authors, the origin of his torture has not received sufficient scholarly scrutiny. In this article, I link the torturous origin to a past traumatic experience, arguing that the Byronic hero suffers from what is now widely recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although a simple Google search for the definition of the Byronic hero yields results that include characteristics such as ‘suffers from a traumatic past’, the study of his trauma is largely neglected. Whether his trauma is incest, secret knowledge, sin, or an unnamed crime, the Byronic hero is living with the consequences of his own traumatic past. In this article, applying trauma theory, I examine the PTSD symptoms of the Byronic hero in Manfred, The Corsair, and The Giaour.

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