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Hegelian Master-Slave Dialectics: Lord Byron’s Sardanapalus

DOI: 10.5539/ells.v3n1p16

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This paper intends to discuss Byron’s “Sardanapalus” by focusing on the Hegelian master-slave dialectics. Written in 1821, “Sardanapalus” presents some trends about Lord Byron’s creation of the Byronic Hero. The Byronic hero is emotional, dreamy, and impulsive. Sardanapalus, the Byronic hero, is the Assyrian King who possesses the complicated nature of both master and slave which is the focus of this article. There are encounters of masters and slaves that consciously and unconsciously take place in this dramatic verse. Sardanapalus’ relationships to his mistress, his brother-in-law and the citizens involve a complex thesis and anti-thesis. Hegelian dialectics reflect the processes of recognition of consciousness through such thesis and anti-thesis. Bondage and lordship and dependency and independency are concepts that are within these processes. Hegel explains that the identity and role of the master and slave can be recognized when they are interacting. It means that the absolute situation in which one is alone cannot be appropriate for distinguishing. It attempts to explain how the master-slave patterns are recognized and defined, how the slaves and masters struggle internally and externally, and how they reach the recognition of the reality of their position and of self and how Sardanapalus as the Byronic hero acts. The focus of this article is on three master-slave patterns which are Sardanapalus-Myrrha, Sardanapalus-Salemenes and Sardanapalus-the citizens.


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