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Top 20 Bad Boys Part 3 – Byronic Heroes in Literature

Part 3 of my “Byronic Hero Top 20 Series” is finally here! Part 1 focused on Byronic Heroes in Film, while Part 2 was about Byronic Heroes in Television. This week, the final in the series, the spotlight is on Byronic Heroes in Literature. So this time around, I’m going back to the beginning. (In the top 20 Byronic Heroes in Film, I provided a list of Byronic characteristics, so make sure to read through that first, before reading on!)

The early influences of Byronic Heroes can be found in stories like Paradise Lost and even Hamlet. But it wasn’t until Lord Byron’s epic poems that the archetype really found its place in the literary world. The Byronic Hero was named after Lord Byron due to a mixture of his writing as well as his personal life. He was “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” yet his appeal was undeniable. The popularity of this character type continued to grow becoming immortalized and even more deeply romanticized with characters like Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre or Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. The popularity of this dark, romantic figure hasn’t died since.

So to celebrate the absolute awesomeness of the Byronic Hero, this week I’ve collected fitting quotes to showcase various aspects of the Byronic personality in literature. This may be the final chapter in my little “Top 20 Byronic Series” but don’t be surprised if you see more articles from me on Byronic Heroes in the future. Till then, enjoy the quotes…




Byronic Hero: Eric Northman

Book: The Southern Vampire Mysteries

Quote: ‘I think you know how I feel,’ he said, in a whisper. ‘We are bonded. Can you believe I’m not thinking of you while I work? When my eyes open, I think of you, of every part of you.’



Byronic Hero: Gabriel Wolfe 

Book: Dark Visions

Quote: When the world is so stupid, you take your revenge, you know? People deserve it. Anybody that weak deserves it.”



Byronic Hero: Edward Cullen

Book: Twilight

Quote: I had no right to want you—but I reached out and took you anyway.”



Byronic Hero: Edmond Dantes

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo


“I regret now,” said he, “having helped you in your late inquiries, or having given you the information I did.”
“Why so?” inquired Dantès.
“Because it has instilled a new passion in your heart—that of vengeance.”


Byronic Hero: Stephen Dedalus

Book: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Quote: “And you invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first.”




Byronic Hero: Captain Nemo

Book: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Quote: On the surface, they can still exercise their iniquitous laws, fight, devour each other, and indulge in all their earthly horrors. But thirty feet below the (sea’s) surface, their power ceases, their influence fades, and their dominion vanishes. Ah, monsieur, to live in the bosom of the sea! ….There I recognize no master! There I am free!”


Byronic Hero: Dom Claude Frollo

Book: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quote: “I wanted to see you again, touch you, know who you were, see if I would find you identical with the ideal image of you which had remained with me and perhaps shatter my dream with the aid of reality.”


Byronic Hero: Onegin

Book: Onegin


“She left, yet still Eugene stood there,

/As if a lightning bolt had struck.

/His heart the tempest now stripped bare,

/And with what storms his body shook!”


Byronic Hero: Jonathan Strange

Book: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Quote: “It is these black clothes,” said Strange. “I am like a leftover piece of funeral, condemned to walk about the Town, frightening people into thinking of their own mortality.”


The picture of Dorian Gray#11

Byronic Hero: Dorian Gray

Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Quote: “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”


A Hero of our Time#10

Byronic Hero: Pechorin

Book: A Hero Of Our Time

Quote: “Whether I am a fool or a villain I know not; but this is certain, I am also most deserving of pity – perhaps more so than she. My soul has been spoiled by the world, my imagination is unquiet, my heart insatiate. To me everything is of little moment. I have become as easily accustomed to grief as to joy, and my life grows emptier day by day.”


Byronic Hero: Lord Ruthven

Book: The Vampyre

Quote: Who could resist his power? His tongue had dangers and toils to recount – could speak of himself as of an individual having no sympathy with any being on the crowded earth, save with her to whom he addressed himself; – could tell how, since he knew her, his existence had begun to seem worthy of preservation, if it were merely that he might listen to her soothing accents; – in fine, he knew so well how to use the serpent’s art, or such was the will of fate, that he gained her affections.”


Byronic Hero: The Phantom/Erik

Book: The Phantom of the Opera

Quote: “If I am the phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.”



Byronic Hero: Victor Frankenstein AND The Monster

Book: Frankenstein

Quote: “I am alone and miserable: man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.” — the Monster

vampire chronicles#6

Byronic Hero: Lestat

Book: The Vampire Chronicles

Quote: “You sense my loneliness, (…) my bitterness at being shut out of life. My bitterness that I’m evil, that I don’t deserve to be loved and yet I need love hungrily. My horror that I can never reveal myself to mortals. But these things don’t stop me, Mother. I’m too strong for them to stop me. As you said yourself once, I am very good at being what I am. These things merely now and then make me suffer, that’s all.”


Byronic Hero: Severus Snape

Book: Harry Potter Series


“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.”


Byronic Hero: Maxim

Book: Rebecca


“Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.”
“Do you mean you want a secretary or something?”
“No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”


Byronic Hero: All of Lord Byron’s Characters

Book: Child Harold’s Pilgrimage has the “first” Byronic Hero for example


“I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.”

Child Harold’s Pilgrimage


Byronic Hero: Heathcliff

Book: Wuthering Heights

Quote: “If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.”



Byronic Hero: Mr. Rochester

Book: Jane Eyre

Quote: “I have little left in myself — I must have you. The world may laugh — may call me absurd, selfish — but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.”



Did I leave off any of your favorite Byronic Heroes in Literature off the list? Sound off below…

Featured image at top: Heathcliff (Timothy Dalton) in Wuthering Heights (1970). Photo: American International Pictures


Read Part One: Top 20 Bad Boys: Byronic Heroes in Film

Read Part Two: Top 20 Bad Boys: Byronic Heroes in Television

Check out our other Top Lists! We put up a new list every Wednesday.

Read the Ten Reasons to Watch the 1983 Adaptation of Jane Eyre.

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By on October 2nd, 2013

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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11 thoughts on “Top 20 Bad Boys Part 3 – Byronic Heroes in Literature”

  1. I only found my way to your wonderful site a few days ago – I’ve enjoyed it very much and I love series – agree with the 20 limit makes it easy to focus on the theme while still allowing for recognition of good selections.


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