While reading up the characteristics of a byronic hero for my research, I discovered the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byronic_hero
However, some elements on this list seem to be contradicting each other;
For example: How does cynicism contribute to a power of seduction? Were Don Juan or Casanova cynics? Or maybe my understanding of cynicism is not correct. When I hear the word cynicism...I think of the characters of the standard American sitcom.


Short answer: cynicism is a version of "playing hard-to-get," which some people find attractive. You seduce by allowing yourself to be chased.

Long answer: Someone who's cynical can be an attractive target for a naïve person who wants to "save" or "fix" the Byronist. "I know Charlie is so world-weary, but if he fell in love with me, I just know I could soften his heart and soothe his hurts! I could take away his pain and make him happy!"

Meanwhile, the Byronist is cynical after heartbreak, or betrayal, or anything else which sours one on optimism. The naïf's point of view may be exactly what the Byronist used to think pre-heartbreak, and s/he is sneering at what s/he used to be. The naïf chases the Byronist, they sleep together, and the Byronist either really doesn't care about the naïf or feels disgusted at him/herself for using the naïf the way s/he was used, and the naïf gets dumped.

And after like the third or four naïf tries this, the Byronist, not pursuing emotional intimacy, might think this was a pretty decent tactic to get some action, and cultivate it deliberately.

  • Thanks. Although it seems the average woman responds more to the sweet talker than to the bitter one. No?
    – Victor123
    Jan 30 '11 at 20:24
  • @Victor: Depends on the person. Very few people are strong enough to pursue only healthy relationships with other fully realized adults. Most of us have some kind of neurosis and often are attracted to people who are in some way "bad for us." Chasing someone who's emotionally unattainable, in the fantasy that "all he needs is the love of a good woman to make him a better person," is quite typical. Change the genders and orientations around any way you like, by the way; this is not only a case of straight naive woman pursues straight Byronic cynical man. Jan 30 '11 at 22:50
  • Thanks. One of the items on the list is :struggling with integrity. Is not that a sign of weakness for a man? Or the explanation you gave holds for this one too?
    – Victor123
    Jan 30 '11 at 23:00
  • 1
    @Victor: Why would struggling be a weakness? it shows depth of character. The man wants to have integrity but temptation abounds, and he has to fight to do the right thing. Weak men take the easy road and don't care what it says about their honor or their souls. A man of integrity does what's right even when it's the hardest thing to do. That takes tremendous strength. It's a fantastic character journey for a novel. In the cynic's case, it would be easy to "love 'em and leave 'em," but a man of integrity would either not get involved or would give the relationship an honest try. Jan 31 '11 at 2:15
  • Thank you! I thought struggling with integiry meant struggling in a loser kind of way. I understand your point now
    – Victor123
    Jan 31 '11 at 2:28

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