Monday 27 April 2009

Heroes and kings

Edward Burne-Jones, 'King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (1884)' (from Wikimedia Commons)I could look at this famous Burne-Jones picture, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, for hours. It shows one of the romance ideals - the ultimate Cinderella story. King Cophetua, smitten by love for the beggar girl, finds her, offers her his heart and marries her. (Naturally, she says yes!)

It's the stuff of romance, even modern romance. Over and over, the rich, powerful hero 'rescues' the Cinderella heroine: the struggling artist, waitress, actress, secretary. As a myth it's comforting to the man, showing him as a powerful hero figure. Women, too, can enjoy the fantasy of being swept up into luxury - who wouldn't?

I'd love to see more role-reversal of this myth: the queen raising up the beggar lad, the woman of power showering her hero with gifts. Woman not only as care-giver or healer but as bestower.

I don't write role reversal very often, although I did have fun with the ideas in Bronze Lightning, in the relationship between Bride and her young lover.

I guess I'm just a sucker for romantic heroes as kings.


Kaye Manro said...

That's a great pic, Lindsay. I have to agree with you. I love the theme, and a to reverse it would be fun.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Kaye!

Kathleen O said...

You don't see a lot of hero's who are poor or down on their luck, and a lovely, strong woman comes along and saves them. I think this would be a great story to write. You picture dipicted was awesome.

Linda Banche said...

Great blog. I think Cinderella may be age-specific, the younger you are, the more you like it. I know I liked it when I was a kid. Now, I don't want to see the poor woman "rescued" by a man. I want to see strong women pulling themselves up using their own intelligence and grit. Of course, a little help from a gorgeous hero, who loves her because she's so strong, wouldn't hurt.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Kathleen! I must admit I think the Burne Jones pic is lovely and one of the most handsome men I've ever seen. I agree about the strong woman, too.

Hi Linda! I agree about Cinderella, although I do still love the story. And I'm with you on the gorgeous hero!

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, I love the picture for the topic. It has so much detail in it.

I agree that role-reversal would be nice to see , a lad in distress versus a damsel, and I think you would do it beautifully !

Donna Hatch said...

I love that story! And I've never seen that picture before - thanks for showing it! I guess from a point of view, (although I didn't know it at the time) that's the theme for my Regency, The Stranger She Married. She's desperate to save her family from financial ruin and the rich hero comes along and rescues her. Of course, he isn't what she expected, and later on, he is the one who needs to be rescued.
Strength comes in all forms.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Pam! I admit I do like my heroines to rescue my heroes at some point.

Hi Donna - your THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED sounds lovely! Sounds as if you have my favourite theme- the heroine and hero 'rescuing' each other at various points. As you say, strength comes in many forms.

Ava James ~Romance Writer said...

I think we all are a sucker for the romanticism of this picture and the mythology of the scene. I love Waerhouse's portrayal of knights and their ladies. Role reversals tend to be an interesting avenue because they challenge the traditional. But it can also cause the conflict in making the hero feel emasculated.
Great picture and blog entry.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Ava.
That's the dilemma, isn't it? To show the heroine's strength without reducing the hero.