Jim Morrison as the Byronic Hero
In this paper I’m going to describe in what way Jim Morrison projects the majority of the characteristics of the Byronic Hero. In the first hand, I need to make a clear and consistent statement concerning the most typical features of the conventional Byronic Hero. Thorsley, the influential researcher of the Romanticism, gives the following account of the Byronic Hero: “…the Byronic Hero is the one protagonist who in stature and in temperament best represents the [heroic] tradition in England. ” The image of the Byronic Hero is surprisingly controversial. He is usually disapproved and disregarded by the larger part of the society.
Thorsley notes that, “with the loss of his titanic passions, his pride, and his certainty of self-identity, he loses also his status as hero. ” Now let me list the typical features of a typical Childe Harold successor and analyze to what extent a specific feature applies to the charismatic personality of James Douglas Morrison.
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In order to do it, I’m going to analyze his biography and some characteristics of his personality and musical heritage. The Byronic Hero is an extraordinary and talented young man. The tremendous success of Jim Morrison leaves no doubt in his enormous talent and energy.
I dare say he was a genius for the ample reason that if we speak about the overall history of contemporary music, we should remember only two names, the Beatles and the Doors, and the Doors in the first place. Secondly, the Byronic Hero is rebellious and opposes almost all social laws and norms. He deliberately distances himself from the social institutions. This feature was characteristic of Jim Morrison from the early childhood and youth. He used to question authority and for that he was dismissed from the scout club. At night, he used to leave home secretly and go to crowded and disreputable bars.
His juvenile misbehaving soon evolved into a consistent social protest expressed trough music and show. Philosophies of Protest was his favorite course in Florida State University. He rejected social institution, and we find evidence for it in the fact that he had never been married. Instead, he “married” Patricia Kennealy in a Celtic pagan ceremony. The Byronic Hero is never impressed by rank and privilege though he may possess it. Jim Morrison might have become a representative of the “golden youth” with good education, good job and stable social position. But his choice was in favour of the flamboyant bohemian lifestyle.
Another feature worth mentioning is intelligence. The conventional Byronic Hero is well-red and possibly well-bread. Jim Morrison took a keen interest in self-education; he devoted time to reading Nietzsche, Jung, Ginsberg, Joyce and Balzac. He derived inspiration in the writing of French symbolists, especially Rimbaud. It’s very interesting to observe that Arthur Rimbaud himself was an exemplary Byronic Hero, with his dark passions and impressive talents. By the age of fifteen, Jim was a gifted poet and painter; some sources argue that Jim Morrison had an IQ of 149.
He has got good education and seen the world. This again proves that Jim Morrison projects the predominant majority of the features of the Byronic Hero. Another indicator of the Byronic Hero is the exile, usually imposed by the young men himself. Paris exile is an essential part of Jim Morrison’s biography. Jim escaped to Paris with Pamela Courson. He did so because he disliked being treated as a celebrity. He was unsatisfied with the absence of seriousness with which he was treated as an American poet. Paris seemed to provide an asylum. The Byronic Hero is continually depressed and melancholy.
It’s reported that in Paris Jim searched for a sense of life and a sense himself in the world as well as for inspiration to create impressive poetry. But even in the city of great poets Jim was constantly uninspired and severely depressed. The Byronic Hero is unusually handsome and inextricably attractive, often to both sexes. I dare label Jim Morrison as the most prominent male sex-symbol of the 20th century. The Childe Harold successor is isolated and self-reliant. Although Morrison was passionate with woman, he never sometimes rejected people at all.
While studying at the university, Jim lived in a house with five other students. Soon, due to his same heckling shenanigans, his roommates asked him to move out. This scenario repeated several time during Morrison’s life career. Thorsley finds a great definition of the Byronic Hero, and Jim Morrison perfectly fits it. The researcher writes that the Hero is “larger than life,” in his feelings, talent, ambition and pride. The Byronic Hero is self-destructive in the longer run. That’s the most substantial argument in proving Jim Morrison connection with the discussed image.
His addiction to alcohol and drugs that progressed during the course of his life was his titanic passion. Finally, he is believed to have died from drug overdose. He abused large quantity of heroin without knowing what exact drug it was. The consequences were easy to foresee. The ingestion of such a large quantity of a drug he had never used before caused a shock and the heart attack. Another version suggests that he did it deliberately, and the case was a typical example of a suicide. Anyway, Morrison, as a typical Byronic Hero, is a master of his own life and death.
Another quality of the Byronic Hero is the ability to stay forever young. Jim Morrison died at the age of 27. Those, whom Gods love, die young. The only counter-evidence I was able to discover, is the fact that the conventional Byronic Hero is distressed by a terrible thing he committed in the past; has a hidden curse or crime. This burden forces him into a voluntary exile. We can’t say that Morrison was constantly followed by the memories of his past. His only serious and continuous crime was connected to drug abuse, but that was typical of him during all the lifetime.
But I can minimize the importance of this evidence. When he escaped to Paris, he faced a tragic dilemma in his life. His two soul-mates, Pamela Courson and Patricia Kennealy, both demanded his love. Many say that his devotion to Patricia Kennealy was greater, but Pamela let him continue his experiments with alcohol and drugs. He may have always felt guilt and regret for leaving Patricia. I consider that this essay proves with essential argumentation and evidence that Jim Morrison projects almost all the features of the Byronic Hero.
James Douglas Morrison was charismatic and talented, attractive and handsome, melancholy and drug-addicted, self-destructive and often isolated. He experienced exile, guilt and depression. So I strongly deem that there are substantial grounds to state that Jim Morrison projects almost all the characteristic of the conventional Byronic Hero. Sources: Stephen Davis, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend, Gotham Books, 2004. James Riordan, Jerry Prochinichy, Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison, Perennial Currents, 1992. Peter L. Thorslev, Romantic Contraries: Freedom Versus Destiny, Yale Univ Pr. , 1984.