Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Narrative Mode ~ #17 Byronic Hero

Dark hero
The Byronic hero is different than other heroes.  In some ways he is similar to Hemingway's code hero in that he does not fit in society.  However, Hemingway's hero seeks acceptance and is humble in his difference, while Lord Byron's hero is superior and deliberate in his isolation.  He is better than others because of his superior intellect and sensitivity.  His passion overrides his actions and supplies support to his intense attachment to whatever drives him: war, a woman, knowledge, isolation. 

In return for his active rejection of social mores, he is also rejected by society even though he is still viewed as great, but great with tremendous flaws that others see, but he does not or does not view as actual flaws.  He is misunderstood or perhaps even maligned in his youth and must live with the stamp of darkness or deliberately perpetuate it as a kind of medal of valor against what he views as inferior knowledge created by the society he rejects.

This character acts as a foil against a common heroic plot.  There are heroic actions he simply cannot do, and this influence on plot imposes distinct directions that the designated Byronic hero must take.


  • Common hero sees female in distress, battles with those attempting to harm her, saves her and returns her to her waiting family's arms.  She falls in love with him, and they live happily ever after (once they have dealt with all the interference common to heroic love).
  • Byronic hero sees female in distress, battles with those attempting to harm her, saves her and (wait, here is the catch) returns her to her waiting family's arms requesting first proper reward paid before they may have her back.  He will withhold her until he receives appropriate payment and will even reject payment if he determines he undervalued the prize.  She is strangely attracted and repulsed by him, perhaps even insulted by his lack of interest in her.  He may even desire her, but payment comes first.

Want to write a dark story, write with a Byronic hero in the mix.  He does not even have to be the main character.  But your readers will get attached to him, hoping all the time that he will change.  And perhaps, you will change him in the end, slightly anyway.

Seen any good Byronic heroes?  Wuthering Heights has Heathcliff.  Jane Eyre's Rochester is a gentler version that changes.  Written any?

 The Little Handbook of Narrative Frameworks available on Smashwords and Amazon.

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