Saturday, July 30, 2005


Tara's blog entry a while ago about heroes & antiheroes has had me thinking. What is the defintion of a hero? What qualities does a hero have? Who are some of my favorite heroes? The dictionary source for these defintions is my Random House College Dictionary.

Hero, noun- A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds & noble qualities.

Heroic, adjective- Of,pertaining to or characteristic of heroes. Suitable to the characteristic of a hero: daring, noble, bold, altruistic, determined etc.

Hamartia, noun- An error in judgement,especially resulting from a defect in the character of a tragic hero, leading to his downfall. That last phrase added from here.

Somehow, lost in the mists of time, the archtype (noun- original pattern or mold after which a thing is made) for heroes in Romanceland has been the 'Alpha hero', often otherwise termed a jerk. Usually controlling, arrogant, cold, emotionally damaged, may have addiction or anger control issues, jealous, possessive. May have a criminal past or be considered a criminal (pirates for example). Many of theese character traits could actually be instances of the tragic flaw or hamartia that ordinarily would bring about the doom of the character.

In Romanceland though, these are desirable traits. Many women, myself included, like alpha heroes. We are asked to believe that the act of falling in love with a 'vituous woman' will be enough to bring about the complete & total redemption of an alpha hero. Somehow.

I freely admit I like alphas (as long as there's no abuse). What I want to know is- how did we women get sucked into this ridiculous belief? What woman in her right mind would actually marry some of these men? I agree, they're more interesting, sexy & what have you, but still. Yes, I realize romance, like all fiction, is exactly that- fiction. I would like a teensy drop of likeability or realism though.

If the heroine could actually see some of these men without their rose colored, hormone framed glasses, they'd run for the hills. Most heroines are in their early twenties & naive, both emotionally & sexually, yet we are asked to believe that their very naivete is one of the reasons the hero changes. But would a 'real' alpha man be attracted tosuch a naive, innocent womanchild in the first place?

Some of my favorite heroes- Jamie in Outlander (don't ask about Clare), Nicholas in Splendor, Niall in Son of the Morning, Damien in Lord of Ice & Simon in Lord of Danger. Who are some of your favorite heroes? Hero peeves?

BTW~ beta heroes & heroines are another discussion entirely!


Anne E. said...

The fascination with alpha males must be in the genes. It probably began millions of years ago as a way to perpetuate the species, by insuring that the strongest males (who were by implication able to pass on their strength) mated with the desireable young females. However, in the 21st century far too many alpha males are doing jail time for them to be considered as THE mate of choice, at least IMO.

I frankly think it is the female ego that continues to perpetuate the myth that alpha males are the cat's ass. "Taming the bad boy" seems to be the theme, and the prize is being one up on all the other females who can "only" get a nice guy, the so-called beta male. Somehow that makes "you" the better woman, because you were able to do what no other woman had been able to accomplish.

It is interesting that we have had the example of two U.S. presidents in a row who had reputations as bad boys at some point in time: President Clinton & his reputation for womanizing and the current President Bush for a drinking problem & a rather wild youth. Hillary Clinton found to her sorrow that the "bad boy" who can't stay away from women doesn't always clean up his act, while Laura Bush had to go through a very rough patch before her husband stopped his wild ways & became a devoted husband.

My son remarked to me recently that apparently the best way to get a woman interested is to be a tatooed biker with a DUI record as long as your arm, have an ex-wife who is a stalker, and a teenage son who is in drug rehab. He was only half kidding when he said that those men seem to have their pick of women. I had to remind him that as a veteran of many a Saturday night singles mixer, I have seen men do exactly the same thing by selecting the most disfunctional woman in the room. What a world, what a world!

I know I didn't really answer the question of who is my favorite alpha hero, and that is because I really don't have that many. I don't think of Jamie Frasier as an alpha male. Jamie is too smart, he was devoted to Clare from the beginning, and his ire is only for those who are truly his enemy. He is not a bully (the strap incident was the exception & it was for a valid reason).

Kristie (J) said...

Derek Craven from Dreaming of You (Lisa Kleypas) is my all time favourite I think. So in love with Sarah, but doesn't think he's good enough. The scene at the ruined gambling house get's me every time.

Tara Marie said...

I'm sorry, but I beg to differ with Anne re: Jamie. Jamie is an alpha hero, he isn't a neanderthal, but he is strong and protective, but Claire is equally strong. An alpha male with an alpha female--the best romance.