Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Why, Despite All Appearances, Kaz Brekker is NOT a Byronic Hero

(Warning: SERIOUS spoilers for Six of Crows. Including the ending.)

If you don't know what a byronic hero is, click here

It's an old post -

(And it isn't particuarly brilliant either)

- but it should do the job.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29975820-six-of-crows

Leigh Bardugo's Kaz Brekker is an interesting hero mainly because he isn't. He's not fussed about saving princesses and worlds. He's essentially a hero in name only. Hell, if it wasn't for the fact that he essentially participates in a rescue mission, he'd be nothing more than a villain playing protagonist. All Kaz wants is money (or so he says). In Six of Crows, a good argument can be found for Kaz being a byronic hero, but, the more I think about it, the more issues I find with attaching that label to his character.

Byronic heroes are typically characterised as being "mad, bad, and dangerous". Kaz is certainly bad and dangerous. He's not even twenty, and he's a powerful gang member. He's killed, he's stolen, he's done two stints in prison. They don't call him "the bastard of the barrel" for nothing. Mad though? No. Kaz is downright rational. He has a plan. And a back-up plan. And probably a third plan after that, if he so needs it. He knows who he can use, and how. When he's calm - and there are only three things that have upset him so far - every move he makes is calculated. Controlled. 

Still, two out of three isn't bad. Let's move onto his motives. 

The Byronic Hero is motivated entirely by self-interest. Look at Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein. He could have saved Justine, but he didn't because that would mean admitting his own crimes. On the surface, this seems to hold true for Kaz. He claims to be entirely motivated by money throughout the first book. Kaz chose all six of the crows for their skills rather than their company. At one point, he even describes Inej, arguably the person closest to him, as an "investment". He might've gotten Inej out of the Menagerie because he thought she could be useful to him, but he's clearly attached to her. When she's injured, his own point of view chapter tells us that "everything inside him felt frayed and raw". Sure, he doesn't want to lose his wraith, but if there was no personal attachment he wouldn't feel like he was fraying at the edges. At the end, he lets the villain (if that's what you call it in a book where everyone is a villain in one way or another) get away because Inej would die if they shot them down. This puts him at a huge disadvantage. It certainly was not in his own self-interest, especially when you consider that Inej had just rejected him - "I will have you without armour Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all." Kaz knows that Inej plans to leave, and he still chooses her safety over an action that would benefit him. Compare Kaz's actions to those of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. He wants Catherine, and he won't let her go even after she's dead. He digs her up, for crying out loud! Kaz outright said that he "want[ed]" Inej, but he'd rather she live and leave than let her die to further his own agenda. By the end of the book, it's clear that Inej's safety is more important to him than money.

To sum up, Kaz presents himself as a byronic hero. He's definitely dangerous, and there's no denying that he's a bad guy, but he's only playing at not caring. Putting on a show. He doesn't fit the mould well enough to count. On the inside, he's not a Victor Frankenstein or a Heathcliff. When it comes down to it, he's not going to sacrifice the people he loves to further his own ends.
No mourners. No funerals.
Throw some opinions at me. What type of hero do you think Kaz Brekker is?
   

3 comments:

  1. This is super interesting! (Kaz is also my favorite character of ever, so I love anything about him.) I agree - he's not really a Byronic hero. It seems like his past is also too complicated to just be a mad, selfish hero. He has too many reasons to do what he does. I don't know �� Wonderful post!!

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    1. I don't know either! This post started out with me arguing that he was, and the more I wrote, the more I realised that he wasn't.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. (ok, so i only skimmed this because I haven't read Six of Crows yet so I can't contribute to the debate about his Byronic qualifications...)
    I love that you even brought up Byronic heroes <3
    And Victor Frankenstein not saving Justine kinda put me on team Monster....
    Now I REALLY want to read Six of Crows tho lol

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