Friday, November 20, 2015

The Fully Formed Hero: Rhett Butler

What makes a romantic hero? In a world that seems to spin into a crazier maelstrom by the hour, why do we want to watch or read stories about a heroine who is swept off her feet in a passionate embrace by a man who embodies her dreams of love?

Is it sheer escapism? Do we search for what we believe we deserve? Are we longing for a simpler time when a man was a gentleman and our lofty expectations of love and marriage could be fulfilled?

Whatever the reason, the fact is that as more and more romance novels are read and enjoyed, and movies are produced that contain a strong element of romantic relationships, we obviously seek something that either inspires us or fills a gap in our emotional life.

That being said, this blog was created as a celebration of the romantic hero, to examine the many guises he takes in popular culture, to serve as a resource for writers and readers, and to have a bit of fun. I propose that the romantic hero can be categorized into several archetypes. Can you come up with more heroes to add to the list for...

The fully formed romantic hero. I am sure that both film and literature have many examples, but the man who springs immediately to mind is Gone With the Wind’s Rhett Butler. He arrives in the novel a fully formed, piratical hero who fascinates Scarlett. Here is the scene where she first encounters him:
“…her eyes fell on a stranger, standing alone in the hall, staring at her in a cool impertinent way that brought her up sharply with a mingled feeling of feminine pleasure that she had attracted a man and an embarrassed sensation that her dress was too low in the bosom. He looked quite old, at least thirty-five. He was a tall man and powerfully built. Scarlett thought she had never seen a man with such wide shoulders, so heavy with muscles, almost too heavy for gentility. When her eye caught his, he smiled, showing animal-white teeth below a close-clipped black mustache. He was dark of face, swarthy as a pirate, and his eyes were as bold and black as any pirate’s appraising a galleon to be scuttled or a maiden to be ravished. There was a cool recklessness in his face and a cynical humor in his mouth as he smiled at her…”
From Gone With the Wind, Chapter Six

Are there other heroes from movies, television or books that fit the bill? A man who is comfortable in his skin, knows what he wants and how to get it, and makes very few changes to his personality throughout the story? Let us know what you think...

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Thanks for sharing!