- Image via Wikipedia
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good romance story. It’s not surprising since Disney has been inoculating the female population with their fairy tale versions of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty for generations now. Add in the role models created by Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and the Bronte sisters, and it’s understandable that woman have been thoroughly conditioned to look for a story with a distinctive type of heroine. Within that genre though, there’s an elite echelon of the iconic romantic heroine.
She’s not quite as daring as a Super Hero, but she needs a specific set of qualifications to become a cultural institution. Moreover, those same qualifications are what lead her to the happy ending. That’s the first rule of a satisfying romance; the heroine gets her man at the end, even if he’s only a poster board character barely mentioned until the final act. She doesn’t want him in the middle or at the beginning either. The post-wedding storyline is where real life begins and that’s what we’re trying to get away from.
The primary characteristic of every romantic heroine is purity of motive. She must be oblivious to all evil intentions. Snow White was so naïve she never figured out the jealous Queen wanted her dead. Sleeping Beauty was unconscious for most of the story, no chance of an impure aspiration there.
But, what makes one heroine the perfect image of what young women aspire to while others stay in the shadows as vague, ill-defined personalities? That’s what the next series of posts will be about. A look at those female characters who have become iconic romantic heroines, the first among equals, the ones who embody the secret desires and fantasies of what we wish all women could be.
If you have a favorite, let me know.