.

Love is a Battlefield

Whether it’s a fairy tale, Jane Austen or Twilight, the heroines in romantic literature seek to achieve equity

 

Love is a Battlefield

 

According to a popular saying, all is fair in love and war, but when it comes to romantic fiction, it could be said that some love stories are less about the desire to win the object of one’s love than a need to win and establish equity.

Love is one of the most powerful forms of human experience, says Helen E. Fisher, a research anthropologist and author of “Why Him, Why Her” and “Why We Love.” Fisher’s research proves that love sets off a hormonal reaction in the human brain that literally makes you feel as if you are addicted to the other person and can drive you to do crazy things in the name of love.

The addictive quality of love certainly encourages a person to aggressively pursue the object of his or her affections but why pick someone who seems so unobtainable as to narrow the odds of your success? In real life, it’s wise to temper the longing of the heart with some logic. Most people choose a mate, says Fisher, at least partially based on similarities in background and lifestyle.

But romantic fiction is something else entirely. Whether it’s the fairy tale of Cinderella, the ironic, witty classic Pride and Prejudice, paperback romance novels, or even the paranormal romance, Twilight, the heroines in these stories seek to achieve equity,  to take the hero, an extraordinary object of attraction and make him more ordinary or equal.

In such romantic fiction scenarios, the desirable hero is aloof, unobtainable for a variety of reasons. He is royal, rich, haughty, bound by a terrible secret or, when it comes to paranormal romances, perhaps not really human. The heroines are, as a rule, virtuous and plucky. They proceed to win the prize by the merit of their actions, rather than their immediate attractions. In earlier non-Disney versions of Cinderella, the heroine more obviously wins the Prince by being good rather than beautiful. In other such fiction, the heroine transforms or tames the accomplished and unobtainable hero by being smart, personable, resourceful, fearless and loyal.

As part of the taming process, the heroine makes the hero more human, shows him how to relate to those less fortunate, enjoy humble experiences, and leave his pedestal or position of power, if only temporarily. While he may raise her station in life by choosing her, she makes him more human and vulnerable.

Why would a woman even want to obtain a man that holds himself so far above her? Maybe there is a biological basis for women’s need to “tame” men. Men are generally, taller and stronger than women. Those who are at a physical disadvantage tend to use other skills to survive and hopefully prosper—negotiation, compromise, charm and perhaps seduction. It was definitely a man’s world when Pride and Prejudice was written and a good marital match was one of the few ways a woman could get ahead but that does not explain the continuing pull of Twilight or romance novels in a world where women compete in the Olympics and a woman’s earning power can easily outstrip a man’s.

I’m not suggesting real love is or should be a battlefield but its interesting that despite the reduced disparity in real life, this classic form of romantic literature continues to provide a vicarious thrill for its readers. Love may conquer all but in romantic literature it is often a form of conquest.

 

Joan Vos MacDonald is the author of After the Fire, a book about Revolutionary War era New York City. The book is available on Kindle.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill Harris August 07, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Dear Joan, On Monday, 8/6/12 I met a wonderful women on the BX20 going to White Plains and lives in your area while visiting my parents. We talked and there was a tremendous amount of chemistry, but I had to jump off the bus with so many clothes from the cleaners. I need to make contact with her and she me, but we did not have time to exchange contact info. What should I do if the only things I know about her is that she is renting a room in Port Chester and works in a hospital in Harrison? I don't think it would be proper for me to list a name. But she was wearing a yellow top and white shorts. I know we have a chance for love and marriage. This is like a Cinderella story. Please help! Bill the H.S. teacher
Joan Vos MacDonald August 07, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Bill, Posting this comment was a good start. Hopefully she will read it and the two of you will have a fairy tale ending. Good luck.
William Demarest (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Hopefully your Cinderella will read you comment and post a reply.
Aidan August 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Socrates: The hottest love has the coldest end.
Joan Vos MacDonald August 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Aidan, a chilling observation, even now.
eatingdogfood August 07, 2012 at 06:09 PM
You sound like you are going to need gobs of blankets.
Aidan August 07, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Flash: Eatingdogfood has learned a new word. Proof you CAN tutor a rock.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »