Wanderings of the outsider

Alienated Romantic figures

An interest in and concern for the outcasts of society: tramps, beggars, obsessive characters and the poor and disregarded are especially evident in Romantic poetry:

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude, was composed in the autumn and winter of 1815 and published in the volume Alastor (1816)
    • Alastor is the spirit of solitude, who pursues the restless, alienated and ultimately unfulfilled Poet to his death
  • Another example of the haunted figure trapped in a life of endless travel can be found in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, by Byron, the first two cantos of which, published in 1812, made him famous; Cantos 3 and 4 followed in 1816 and 1818
    • In the poem, Harold, worn out from a life of pleasure, becomes a self-exiled, melancholy outcast from society, wandering through the world in search of some kind of purpose or satisfaction, which he never finds
  • Similar figures can be found in Byron's The Giaour (1812) and Manfred (1817). 
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