[Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

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[Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:27 pm

Because DNL shut down the thread that included the beginnings of a really interesting conversation about Snape over on the main site...

Are there any characters in literature who you think are particularly good or bad examples of how to behave in a relationship? Bonus points if it's TOTALLY in the fact of popular opinion or contemporary wisdom.

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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:48 pm

No one should model their relationship after Heathcliff and Catherine, ever. It's pretty clear no one was meant to look at that relationship as romantic, but people still get confused anyway. Mr. Darcy gets way more credit than he deserves, partially because he's contrasted with someone worse. I'm not convinced that the change in his behavior was permanent or that the person we met at the beginning of the book wasn't a more accurate representation of his true self. And, yeah, Snape is a jerk.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:28 pm

Romeo and Juliet is the story of a weekend fling between two high schoolers, not a model of ideal romance! Warm Bodies, on the other hand, is terrifically cute.

Gomez and Morticia are great but I think we've been down that road recently. Also, strictly speaking not literature.

I find Vlad and Cawti to be a very realistic relationship arc, right down to the recurring power dynamic. Even after their marriage has failed, both of them don't think twice about saving the other but they hate doing it because they know the other will feel indebted and resent that.

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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by reboot on Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:56 pm

Shakespeare couples are generally bad models, even in the comedies, since communication seems to.....challenge them.

Jeez, this is sad. I am struggling to come up with good couples to model and am falling short big time.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:09 pm

I haven't gotten very far into the series, so perhaps it all goes to hell, but Aral and Cordelia Vorkosigan seem to have a fairly healthy relationship? I suspect we might need to look at newer works for functional couples, since I suspect that even relationships that were written as being happy in classic literature will look unjust to modern readers.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Enail on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:34 pm

Anyone read the Riddlemaster of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip? I haven't read it for a long time, and my interpretation of the relationship might well have changed since then, but I remember the main characters' relationship as being pretty great. Patricia McKillip in general does some relationships I could be on board with.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Wondering on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:48 pm

I've read it, enail, and like for you, it was a long time ago, but that's also my memory of their relationship. I agree about McKillip in general, too.

Romeo and Juliet is the story of a weekend fling between two high schoolers, not a model of ideal romance!

QFT. And they end up dead because they're stupid. How is this a model of anything good? Also, Romeo is a giant whiner.

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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by The Wisp on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:59 pm

I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but anything that takes this form is an example of a bad relationship role model:

Boy meets girl. Girl doesn't like boy. Boy goes on adventure (sometimes with girl, sometimes without). Boy does something amazing on adventure. Girl suddenly falls for boy. They live happily ever after.

I mean, that just doesn't happen in real life, and even if it did it would involve really gradual changes in personalities over the span of years. It also makes the girl come off as kinda shallow, in many ways, and I doubt such a relationship is sustainable.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:12 pm

The Wisp wrote:I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but anything that takes this form is an example of a bad relationship role model:

Boy meets girl. Girl doesn't like boy. Boy goes on adventure (sometimes with girl, sometimes without). Boy does something amazing on adventure. Girl suddenly falls for boy. They live happily ever after.

I mean, that just doesn't happen in real life, and even if it did it would involve really gradual changes in personalities over the span of years. It also makes the girl come off as kinda shallow, in many ways, and I doubt such a relationship is sustainable.

The critique of that is basically the plot of Stardust! (Which doesn't portray an especially healthy relationship, either, but at least it's a different kind of unhealthy relationship.)

Wondering wrote:
Romeo and Juliet is the story of a weekend fling between two high schoolers, not a model of ideal romance!

QFT. And they end up dead because they're stupid. How is this a model of anything good? Also, Romeo is a giant whiner.

To be fair to Shakespeare, I think this may be a case like Wuthering Heights where it's the audience who've built up relationship as an ideal romance rather than the author attempting to present them with one.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:20 pm

I LOVE Aral and Cordelia's relationship. Smile

I also really like Anne and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion, much more than Elizabeth and Darcy.

Peter and Elizabeth Burke, from White Collar, are another really fantastic and functional relationship for me.

Although I love most of Tamora Pierce's books, I dislike pretty much every one of her romances. Kel is the only one of her characters whose romantic arc I can get solidly behind.

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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Werel on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:33 pm

Lin and Isaac's relationship in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station is a nice example of a couple where each has their own highly engaging professional/personal life, they have to snatch what time together they can, but they make room for one another in their lives with warmth and a believable connection.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:01 pm

I'm trying to come up with a single functional couple in Game Of Thrones. So far Ned and Cat are the best I can pull off. Oberyn and Ellaria?

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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Barretts_Salt on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:08 pm

Is anyone else familiar with Barbara Hambly's Sun Wolf series? Three books about a mercenary captain who becomes a mage and his female lieutenant Starhawk?

It always appealed to me.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:12 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:I'm trying to come up with a single functional couple in Game Of Thrones. So far Ned and Cat are the best I can pull off. Oberyn and Ellaria?

Big thumbs down for Ned and Cat. They don't have a terrible marriage, but Cat's seething resentment at Jon Snow is a problem, and either Ned's infidelity or his lies caused much of that problem.

I'd vote for Oberyn and Ellaria, though. They have an unusual relationship, but it seems to be mutually agreed upon and to make them both happy. When it comes to the other non-traditional couples, I think Renly, Loras, and Margaery could have worked things out in a way that made them all reasonably happy.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by readertorider on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:21 pm

Werel wrote:Lin and Isaac's relationship in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station is a nice example of a couple where each has their own highly engaging professional/personal life, they have to snatch what time together they can, but they make room for one another in their lives with warmth and a believable connection.

I'm just starting Perdido Street Station! I did notice how different their relationship is from the usual stuff I read... Mieville's The Scar though
had a really scary pair of lovers--first time I ever heard 'love' being used as a dirty word was when I read that book several years ago.

I really like the romance in Robin McKinley's novels. Usually they seem to follow this pattern:

Boy and Girl are close friends. Boy likes girl, but girl doesn't notice. Girl goes on adventure (usually with some support from boy). Girl returns. Boy speaks up. Happily ever after.

It probably isn't too realistic, but I do like the books and the way that girl and boy know and like each other in the mundane/normal life makes me think that they will still go together well after all the adventures are over.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Chickpea Sarada on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:21 pm

When I think of Worst Romantic "Hero," the first I've ever seen and hated was probably Ryoki from Hot Gimmick. I first heard of this series from an anime magazine. It summed the story up as the girl has to become a slave to this guy, and the prince can't save her. Naively I thought, "Ooh, so she saves herself?" But upon borrowing the first volume from my cousin, my 13-year-old self spent the whole reading period getting frustrated and going, "This is just wrong." Not sure if I wanted to continue such a painful read, I looked up the summaries of the future volumes. My thoughts were basically, "Wait. The abusive douchebag is her love interest? She doesn't escape him but actually gets together with him?!" Skipped ahead and opened to a page on the final volume; "What the hell? 'If I marry him, maybe he'll be nice to me?' ASDFGHJKL%^@$!!!!"

As a matter of fact, I'm having a hard time finding a manga/anime romance I enjoy because it's so common for the guy to be a jerk, which I hate.

It's pretty disturbing how abundant unhealthy or even abusive relationships are in media. Even worse when they're glorified.
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Re: [Disc] Best/Worst Romantic Heroes/Heroines

Post by Lemminkainen on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:35 pm

I'm rather fond of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy in the first Amazing Spider-Man film-- largely because it subverts superhero movie romance tropes a lot. They get together because they like each other in everyday life, not because she's turned on by him being a superhero. He tells her about his identity early on rather than lying to her about it (a huge problem with almost all superhero movie romances). She consistently makes helpful interventions to deal with the Lizard, and only puts herself in danger for good reasons, averting another common form of superhero movie gendered shittiness. And he ultimately chooses to avert the whole "I cannot put you in danger, so we must break up!" trope when he understands that it's much more valuable for both he and Gwen for him to be there for her-- somebody's father, even a dying one, doesn't get to make choices about whether you date them or not. I've... avoided seeing the second film, so I'm not sure how that works out.


Interesting case: I think that Scott and Ramona in Scott Pilgrim the comic book is way, way better than Scott and Ramona in Scott Pilgrim the movie, mostly because the comic book has a lot more time to flesh out Ramona (among other non-Scott characters) and show how both she and Scott grow and change over time. (I really like both works, and I prefer the film's take on romance to most action-adventure hollywood romances*, but I think that the comic books handled it better.)


*Since the main obstacle to romantic success isn't defeating external obstacles, but learning to take responsibility for yourself and be less of a douchebag!

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