Wednesday, July 15, 2009
WHAT CONSTITUTES A HERO IN A ROMANCE?
At the RWA conference this question has been asked and many different answers were given. I pondered it myself, thinking over famous heros from romance movies and books. In Casablanca, Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, is a hero. What makes him so? He's not particularly tall or well built, he's not young. As the movie opens Rick is a dead man walking, damaged by a past love affair which has made him indifferent to life and to those around him. That's like a siren call to a lot of women, a man who needs rescuing. But that's not all, Rick is attractive and confident, in his world he holds a position of power. People look up to him and respect him. I think it's that confidence that exudes sex appeal. The same with Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. Handsome yes, but more than that, Rhett has confidence, even though he is an outcast to some extent in the world he inhabits, he gains respect by his clever business acumen and is looked up to by others who are higher on the social ladder than he. His wealth gives him power, but he is made vulnerable by the death of his beloved daughter. That's why the Regency and Victorian periods are so popular still, men held positions of power that make them sexually appealing. But in a good Regency these men didn't have it all, not until they gained the love of the heroine. Contemporary novels are full of wealthy magnates, shieks etc, who offer the same appeal. These are not the only qualities a hero must have, of course. Rick and Rhett were flawed, but also brave, self-sacrificing, passionate and loyal. But to me it's that combination of confidence in their ability to make their way in the world, plus a certain vulnerability that makes them special.
What do you think?