“Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” illustrates the difficulties that characters experience in wiping out a society of violence. This novel does not simply refer to the actions that result to the fall of David Lurie from a life of grace to grass or his daughter’s violation, but it refers to a life that has lost the aspects that make life valuable. Even though, David might be perceived as departing from his literature model, Byron, and submitting himself the chances of creating history, he is quietly falling into a history that is distorted, and transcending humanity and sexuality then reducing into nothingness. This essay elaborates the attempts that David made in becoming a Byronic hero, why he got attracted to that figure, and whether he succeeds throughout the novel.
Coetzee’s approach in writing this novel is historical and direct. As a middle-class white and heterosexual man, David has no innate experiences of the oppressed world and segregation based on his race or sex. He has no experience of being denied subject status as a result of his race or sex. Without a doubt, David finds himself in uncomfortable situations, and he tries to identify himself as Byronic hero (Olsen 35).
The attempts that David made to be a Byronic hero in “Disgrace”.
In his life, David made several attempts to identify himself with Byron a romantic poet. David Lurie had an affair with a 20 year old student by the name Melanie Isaacs. In the book, “Disgrace” several comparables are highlighted between the romantic poet and David Lurie. Both believed that they were irresistible such that they attracted women easily. At the age of nine, Byron’s sexual instincts were aroused by a nurse who used his body to carry out some sexual experiments. This made Byron suffer from erotic confusion (Coetzee and Ractliffe 167).
David also tried to be a Byronic hero by adopting his hero’s character traits. For instance, Bryon would not sustain an affair. He developed a clear distinction between sex and love such that he would get bored with the attractive women he slept with. David too pointed out that his fate was that he would not sustain a marriage. This is proven by the fact that he had two marriages that had failed and several affairs all through the novel. Olsen asserts that Bryon felt real love for his sister Augusta with whom they had a child out of a scandal; he felt some attachment towards her (89). David too continued developing a desire for Melanie as part of his scandal and also felt connected to her through their wrongdoings (94).
According to Coetzee, David’s sex life continues to be a disgrace when he holds a conversation with Isaac, Melanie’s father. David justifies his careless actions by thinking that he is indeed a gentleman of a definite kind with impulsive little adventures (66). He would not realize that the statements he made like in the case of Melanie where he says that something unpredictable happened to him. David says that Melanie struck up fire in him (67). These statements were inappropriate to a father who had entrusted the University with the welfare of his daughter only for her to be taken advantage of by her professor. David’s actions steered harsh criticism throughout the novel.
Another attempt that David made in order become a Byronic hero was to develop a passion for prostitutes who easily fell for his charms. His idol, Byron, referred to any person who had clicked thirty years as an obstacle to any fierce or real pleasure in the obsession (Coetzee 86). David was already past this age, but he believed that he had not attained the achievements that his Byron had. This was after engaging in a love affair with an underage girl than Melanie.
David Lurie wanted to prove his heroic abilities by not complying with any authority. For instance, in his affair with Melanie, his student, he was told to make a public apology. He ruined his professional career by refusing to apologize in public just as the University committee wanted. He was not remorseful either for his actions; instead he affirmed that he could not make an apology for the sake of it, without being truly sincere. David Lurie extended his malice by telling the media that he was deeply upset by that knowledge when reporters sought his opinion regarding the scandal (Coetzee 56).
Reasons as to why David was attracted to that kind of figure.
David Lurie was attracted to Byron because he found out that they both possessed similar characteristics. For instance, he was unable and confused in handling a relationship just as his idol Byron. David had two failed marriages and several affairs with prostitutes including his own student at the University. It justifies why David tried extremely hard to identify himself with Byron. Therefore, whatever he did was pleasant according to his judgment as long as it would be attributed to his hero…”
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