Master-Slave Dialectics and Women Characters in Three Dramatic Verses of Lord Byron

Marziyeh Farivar


This article aims at illuminating the portrayal of women in three selected dramatic verses of Lord Byron according to master-slave dialectics of Hegel. This theory is based on the consciousness of being a master or a slave within three stages of confrontation, recognition, and acceptance. The process by which one perceives self as master or as slave reflects the conscious and unconscious knowledge and experiences one may get or reach to. Master-slave dialectics refers to two particular key terms which are lordship/bondage and dependency/independency. This paper will discuss the characters of Marina in “The two Foscari”, Myrrha in “Sardanapalus” and Josephine in “Werner” as the three significant female voices in Byron’s dramatic verses. Using the framework of master-slave dialectics the paper will show how the women, while considered as the inferior gender in the Romantic era, actually emerge as superior in the selected works. The discussion will also reveal how these women characters of Byron are presented as having the courage to speak up, having the ability to confront the complexities of their situations, establishing some forms of authority over these situations and ultimately, directly or indirectly, having the power to influence the male characters around them. In this way, the woman as slave rises to the position of master of the situation.

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