I'm learning about the different hero archetypes. As far as I know, Byronic heroes are charismatic, passionate, and flawed, among others. But can they be humorous? I can't think of any examples off of the top of my head from books or popular culture, so I'm not sure whether having a sense of humor fits that archetype.


The pure Byronic archetypical characters, such as Byron wrote, are noted for their sullen, defiant, arrogant, passionate, miserable, and withdrawn character. In particular, self-obsessed and lacking a sense of perspective -- which makes it difficult to see the humor in things.

It is possible to imagine leavening the character with a sense of humor, albeit a dark, sardonic one. However, even that much would result in a character that could be a Byronic hero but not an archetypical one. And too much would start to make him not one at all (though he might have commonalties).

Humor is a coping mechanism. Byronic heroes do not have good coping mechanisms.

  • How would you fit Don Juan into this? Is the title hero of Byron's magnum opus (so says Wikipedia) a Byronic hero? Even if Don Juan the character is not humorous, Don Juan the poem is. May 14 at 11:26
  • @kimchilover Don Juan himself really does not fit the type. Manfred is more like it.
    – Mary
    May 14 at 13:09
  • 1
    Good explanation. To explicate, the Byronic hero can be sardonic, but it's essential that the reader take them seriously and find them alluring/interesting despite their dark or threatening nature, which precludes casting them in a comedic light. Furthermore, the Byronic hero emerged from the Romantic era, which generally eschewed levity for intensity, so it's pretty hard to separate the concept from the broader aesthetic movement. Of course, the Byronic hero is itself a broader cultural influence, but a Byronic hero can't play such a dominant role in a work without a suitable tone.
    – Alice
    May 15 at 9:07

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