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Byron's Heroines$
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Caroline Franklin

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112303.001.0001

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‘The Firmness of a Female Hand’: The Active Heroines of the Tales

‘The Firmness of a Female Hand’: The Active Heroines of the Tales

(p.72) 3 ‘The Firmness of a Female Hand’: The Active Heroines of the Tales
Byron's Heroines

Caroline Franklin

Oxford University Press

Lord Byron's oriental heroine is the fought-over focus of the eternal triangle, situated between a Turkish tyrant and a debased would-be Western liberator. The obvious political allegory is a commonplace of modem criticism, and could be compared with a political cartoon. The association between the rights of woman and political freedom was forged in the revolutionary decade of the 1790s, when the concept of natural law was cited to challenge hierarchical authority. The heroine is not merely conventionally used as the genius of her country in the poems of William Blake and Byron, for the concept of femininity is central to the relationship between Romanticism and revolution. Blake's and Byron's female slaves are quintessential subjects, inferior in sex, lass, and colonised race. Byron breaks new ground in introducing another contrasting heroine, Gulnare, in The Corsair.

Keywords:   Lord Byron, oriental heroine, political freedom, William Blake, Gulnare, The Corsair, femininity, female slaves

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