Anthropologist To Naturalist

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Anthropologist To Naturalist – An Analysis Of Canto Iv By Bryon Essay, Research Paper In Canto IV of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Byron takes a look into the mortality of man, contrasting it to the immortality of Nature. He transforms from an anthropologist to a naturalist, by analyzing the imperfect aspects of mankind. However, by what methods does Byron make the transition from anthropologist to naturalist? My essay will take a look into how Bryon begins by idolizing man-made creations, just to realize that they all crumble in end. He realizes the only way to be immortal is via nature, but first he must make the transition from idolizing man to idolizing his mind. It is only when his mind is pure that he can then metaphysically bond with nature, and became immortal. The

poem starts with Byron walking through Italy. In the early nineteenth century Italy was considered an ideal setting for intellectuals. The English would travel to Italy to learn culture. It is in this setting of intellectuals where Byron sets forward his ideas. He is crossing the “Bridge of Sighs”, as realizes it is place a person would see the world before he was executed. By initiating the poem with a mention of mortality, Bryon already leaves the impression that humans are not eternal. He then contrasts “A palace and a prison” (I. ll. 2), the two different sides of power in Italy at the time – the judicial system, that decided whether people should live or not, and the palace, above all law. In contrast to future passages in the poem, Byron sees man-made

constructions in the city of Venice, which have lasted over the years. His description of the city was almost one of a magical place. It is described “from out the wave her structures rise/As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand” (I ll. 3), as if they have no base, and simply come out of the waves. He describes the city as expanding around him, however there is a “dying Glory”. This is the beginning of the idea that Byron brings forward, that only Natural phenomena can last forever, and man-made structures are destined to fall. By the end of the first stanza however, Byron build’s up the myth of Venice by comparing it to a “Lion” (I. ll. 8) and saying that it is “thron’d on her hundred isles”. Lions can be considered to be very dominating and strong

animals, yet beautiful and often glorified in European literature. Venice is then feminized as a nymph, showing that the city of Venice is sensual, and thus attractive to the desires of man. It is described as the “ruler of the waters” (II. ll. 4). Then, in contrast to the feminine personification Bryon says that the city “had their dowers/From spoils of nations” (II. ll. 6). So not only is the city sensual, but also powerful. The city is also wealthy, with the “gems in sparkling showers” and her majestic description that “in purple was she robed”. Suddenly all the myth is cracked. He states, “Tasso’s echoes are no more” (III ll. 1) showing how in modern Venice the legends and magic of the past are no more. After building up the city in the first two initial

stanzas, the third stanza suddenly destroys the myth. The gondolier, almost a landmark of the city of Venice is “songless” (III. ll. 2) and the “palaces are crumbling.” The same palace that stood as a symbol of power was now a ruin. And then the main theme of the poem is brought to light. Bryon states that “Those days are gone” (III. ll. 5) referring to the past, but says that “Beauty is still here.” But what beauty is here if all structures are crumbling? It is “Nature [that] doth not die”. This is Byron’s first mention that everything made by man – including humans – are mortal, whilst Nature is immortal. This is the turning point to the poem. Byron realizes that humans cannot be immortal, and as such are imperfect and anything they do is prone to