4 Literary Archetypes You Shouldn’t Love IRL

If you’ve been living under a rock since 2012, you’ve probably woken up to find said rock covered in pink glitter and heart confetti, because today is Valentine’s Day. Many book bloggers have been discussing the best or worst romances in literature, but I’d like to talk about the sorts of characters that are totally swoon-worthy in novels, but I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole in real life:

The Age of Innocence: Nothing says danger like an affair with your wife’s cousin!

The Bad Boy/Girl

You’ve always been warned against them: the rough-around-the-edges type that will get you into trouble and break your heart. You wouldn’t bring them home to your parents, and that’s exactly their allure. Whether it’s taking you to that seedy bar on the back of a motorcycle or convincing you to get a tattoo, everything about them is exciting and a wee bit dangerous. Unfortunately, that adrenaline rush of passion only leads to equally explosive fights and breakups.

Heathcliff: Convincing women around the world to ignore red flags–like hanging your beloved’s dog!

The Angsty Outsider

Unlike the bad boy/girl, the angsty outsider might have a heart of gold. At least you hope so, because their moodiness is downright depressing. They blame their me-against-the-world attitude on their parents’ divorce, school bullying, or impoverished upbringing, and since they’re just so pitiful, you want to be the one to bring  joy back into their lives. All that pressure to be their beacon of light will eventually drain you so much that you’ll abandon them–giving them yet another reason to believe the worst in people–or you’ll end up just as dark and gloomy as them. Misery sure does love company!

Missing: One glass slipper and one actual personality

The Prince(ss) Charming

They’re stunningly good-looking, intelligent, and kind-hearted. They have a lucrative job and a gorgeous home. They really listen to what you say and can always make you laugh. Perhaps their spare time is spent helping the elderly across intersections and taking in stray kittens. All your friends and relatives love them and are counting down the days until your nuptials. But…you want there to be a but. All this perfection is driving you crazy and feeding into your worst insecurities. You wonder what’s wrong with them, what’s wrong with you, until your paranoia sabotages the whole thing. Beware of people who never have bad hair days or get flat tires. They might actually belong in the next category…

Vampire love: When you want to kiss and kill someone at the same time!

The Mythical Creature

Vampires, werewolves, elves, merpeople, even zombies have been re-imagined in literature as lover material. I had no idea that blood-sucking and brain-devouring could be considered sexy but books have come a long way since Dracula. If monsters started appearing in our daily lives, here’s how it would play out: (1) Only you would know their secret, making you feel oh-so-special, until your loved ones start to wonder why your mate doesn’t have a reflection…or a pulse. (2) Someone spills the beans, and you spend the rest of your life keeping your mythical creature away from greedy scientists and rival demons. Don’t worry about it too much, as odds are, your life isn’t going to be very long anyway now.

Any other tropes I’ve missed? What’s a turn-off in books that would be a turn-off IRL? Sound off in the comments!

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Masterpiece Monday: Jane Eyre

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë (Image via Wikipedia)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Since last week, I blogged about Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, I thought I’d discuss Emily’s equally famous sister Charlotte’s masterpiece Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847 under her pen name Currer Bell. In addition, I plan on watching its most recent movie adaptation sometime this week.

This novel follows Bronte fashion by incorporating Gothic Romanticism, unconventional characters, and a feminist perspective. The story begins with Jane Eyre’s childhood. As an orphan, she grew up with a cruel aunt and attended a miserable boarding school. Eventually, she meets Edward Rochester and falls in love with him.

The rest of the novel narrates their romance and the various obstacles in their way, including financial issues and strange happenings inside Rochester’s home. I won’t give anything away, because the novel’s mystery makes it even more enjoyable.

What I love about Jane Eyre is that even though she’s not the prettiest woman, she stands up for herself and refuses to be defined or dependent on men. In comparison to Catherine in Wuthering Heights, Jane does not allow her social standing to determine how she lives her life and whom she marries.

However, I gave Wuthering Heights a higher rating, because I was more enamored with Heathcliff than Mr. Rochester. Rochester was very stern and harsh at times, and it was hard to trust him, given his certain decisions in the past which I will not divulge. I felt that Heathcliff, although also cruel to others, used his anger to mask his true passion and deep down, only had eyes for Cathy–even during her marriage to another man and after her death. He’s the ultimate bad boy with a good heart.

But you really can’t go wrong either way, since both Bronte sisters produced exquisite work. Lovers of Victorian romances will have probably already read Jane Eyre, but if you haven’t yet, hurry up and do it already! Then tell me what you thought!

Favorite Quote: “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action–they will make it if they cannot find it.”

2011 “Wuthering Heights” Trailer!

For “Masterpiece Monday” I reviewed Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, and now the trailer has been released for a UK adaptation coming this November.

The movie, directed by Andrea Arnold, will star Kaya Scodelario as Catherine (whom I loved as Effy in the original British version of “Skins”) and James Howson as the first African-American Heathcliff.

It’s already getting a bunch of award-winning buzz. It was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. But Howson’s race is also drawing much attention and criticism.

I was looking forward to a “Wuthering Heights” film in the works starring the oh-so-sexy Ed Westwick (aka Chuck Bass in “Gossip Girl”), but since that project has been dropped, I’m anxious to see Arnold’s version. I also don’t mind a black Heathcliff, because his character’s race was described ambiguously by Bronte herself.

She writes that Heathcliff “is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect,” and Nelly tells him as a child, “if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly…Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen.” Thus, Heathcliff is not supposed to be traditionally English, but rather an ethnically-mixed outsider.

The trailer portrays the setting of Wuthering Heights perfectly: dark, gloomy, and very windy. The nature dominates the scene, with shots of insects and plants throughout. The only line of dialogue in this minute-long video is Catherine saying, “You broke my heart. You killed me.” Interesting that they chose to lead with that, since I always felt Heathcliff was more the victim, heartbroken and abandoned by Catherine.

Overall, I really hope they release this film in the US, because it looks very intriguing and unique! What do you think?

 

Masterpiece Monday: Wuthering Heights

Cover of "Wuthering Heights (Signet Class...

Cover of Wuthering Heights (Signet Classics)

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’m going to update the 30-day book challenge tomorrow, but today was supposed to be “Book that turned you on.” Bodice-ripping Harlequins don’t qualify as “masterpieces,” so I just decided to make this week’s meme about my favorite literary romance novel: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Emily Bronte came from a brilliant English family. She had five siblings: two sisters who died young of tuberculosis, her brother Patrick, and her equally famous sisters Charlotte (Jane Eyre) and Anne (Agnes Grey). All the Bronte children were artistic and excelled in writing and painting. The girls, however, went by pseudonyms for publication–Ellis, Currer, and Acton Bell–of which the initials matched their real names. Wuthering Heights is Emily’s only novel, which was published in 1847. She died from tuberculosis a year later at the age of 30. In fact, their father sadly outlived all his children.

The novel, narrated by Nelly, the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, follows the tragic relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. It starts off when a new resident meets an older Heathcliff and his son, but Nelly takes the reader back 30 years prior, when Heathcliff (a homeless gypsy) is adopted by the Earnshaws.

Catherine soon grows close to Heathcliff, but her fixation on social status keeps them apart. The two must face the age-old decision between love and money, but if you know anything about Victorian literature, you probably already know what’s chosen.

Other than the difficulty in comprehending this convoluted family tree, full of multiple generations and repeating names, I have no complaints about Wuthering Heights. It’s the epitome of all star-crossed lover stories, surpassing even Romeo and Juliet, in my opinion.

The romance is heart-wrenching, dramatized but not glorified. Many despise Catherine for her selfishness and superficiality and Heathcliff for his cruelty and angst, but they are not supposed to be the perfect couple. Bronte focuses on the dark side of love and makes the reader wonder what is love’s purpose: to create or destroy? burn with passion or engulf in flames? make lovers better or worse human beings?

Wuthering Heights is easily one of my top five books of all time, but if you like traditional romance novels with cheery prince-like male love interests, then you won’t like this book. But if you appreciate raw, often ugly, all-consuming love, then don’t hesitate and pick up this book now.

And if I only write one novel, like Emily, then I just hope it’s a fraction as good as hers, because it truly is a masterpiece.

Favorite Quote: “‘And I pray one prayer–I repeat it till my tongue stiffens–Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you–haunt me, then! The murdered DO haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I CANNOT live without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!'” (Ch. 16)