Monday, February 15, 2016

Inspired by Austen's Heroes

Oh! What are men compared to rocks and mountains?  - Pride and Prejudice       

Thanks to Carrie Booth Schmidt I'm inspired to talk of heroes today, with a grande finale post on her blog in a month! Talking of heroes? SUCH a hardship, right? :-)
But in all seriousness, the Valentine's Day romance encouraged lots of thoughts of heroes that really stand out in both classic and modern literature.
And from who better to draw inspiration, than the witty word-weaver, Jane Austen?

I love a well-written heroine, but not even the best heroine can outshine the perfect hero (for me), so I thought I’d end our Valentine’s weekend with PART1  of  3 heroic posts :-)

As we think of Austen's men, one thing to keep in mind is their very ‘humanness’. They are not perfect, sometimes their character flaws are quite obvious – but throughout the stories their imperfections are met with the perfect match in their heroines.
They are vulnerable and fallible - which makes them realistic.
That’s why we end up liking…or loving them. That's also why they are memorable.

Though there are more Austen heroes, for time’s sake I have chosen one example under each of the six categories. People may or may not agree with these categories, but I believe they cover most hero-types in novels or movies out there. (and some heroes are nice combos of two different types)

The Six Categories I've discovered are:

The Reluctant Hero

The Subtle Servant

The Good Guy

The Best Friend

The Reformed Rogue

The Anti-Hero

 Though many of you will prefer the latter two hero-types, I’m going to save those for Part 3 and discuss the ‘less popular’ two today. Please remember, less popular does not mean less important. In fact, The Subtle Servant is one of the most quietly beautiful hero-types out there.
So, let’s get on with the first two, shall we?

The Reluctant Hero

This is not to say these men do not want to be heroic. This type of character has the heart of a hero, but doesn’t always show those characteristics until situations or circumstances (or the right woman) force them into the fray. Unfortunately, this is often viewed as indecision or weakness of character. He doesn’t truly realize his ‘hero potential’ until he must become the lead man in the situation, or in the heart of the woman he loves. Insecurities may cloak his awareness of his own heroism, but he will rise to the occassion.

Edward FerrarsThe wrong thing for the right reason

One of Sense & Sensibilities quiet heroes is Edward Ferrars. Our first impression of him in the novel is this:
"He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid improvement.”

Everyone makes mistakes, right? But not everyone stands by their poor choices to honor their own promises. Though Edward's character appears weaker than his romantic counterpart, Eilnor Dashwood – and certainly less constant than his fellow hero, Colonel Brandon, Edward’s compassionate nature and anchor-to-duty becomes apparent when he is forced to take a stand – even against his supercilious mother and sister. And he does exhibit character growth. In the beginning of the novel, he has NO control over his life –and has allowed his mother and sister to make choices for him. By the end – and through poor choices and convenient circumstances- he becomes the owner and creator of his life. Elinor sees him as a hero - and he's a great match for her, because doesn't long for a raging romance, but a steady flame. She gets it in her perfect hero.
Not dark or dashing, but a good heart and someone who will choose to do the RIGHT thing, even if it hurts.
Btw, he's not a brooding, dark, and #5 swoon-worthy hero, but he's a good guy.

(Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park would fit within this type, IMO)

Some movie and book examples of this type of hero are:
Mary Connealy’s heroes: Alex and Logan in the Sophie’s Daughters series.

Patrick O’Connor strikes me as a reluctant hero in Julie Lessman’s Christmas novel, A Light in the Window.

Ryan Reynolds’ character in The Proposal and Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic 4 could fall into this category too. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings has characteristics from this type of hero too (of course, the PERFECT hero may show all the characteristics within his personality at one time or other - but he's pretty hard to find ;-)

The Subtle Servant  
This hero is also one that obtains less glory from ladies who prefer dark-and-brooding. This type of hero usually makes himself known in the subtle, small, and quiet ways – being available, observant, and faithful. In fact, being noticed is the furthest thing from his mind.
He may not charge onto the field on his steed, but he will seek out a heart-sore woman and carry her through the rain to shelter. He will rescue a ‘fallen’ woman from a life of destitution, he will provide a means of income for a ‘good’ man who has lost his inheritance, and he will hold on to love in an unassuming, yet strong-as-steel, sort of way.

I absolutely LOVE this type of hero – even though he’s not as popular. There is a quiet strength about him and an undeniable sense of faithfulness.

Colonel Brandon – is a sensitive and subdued man who suffered the loss of his lady-love when his parents refused the match – then his lady fell into the life of promiscuity and finally died, so he took her illegitimate child into his care. Now, after years in the army and unmarried, this sensitive man finds a ‘kindred’ spirit in the young Marianne Dashwood. Due to Marianne’s indifference to him, and the apparent age-gap, Colonel Brandon maintains a friendship with the family, and ready service to them, but does not pursue Marianne. Brandon’s acts of kindness are sprinkled throughout the story in quiet, and finally, grand ways – until Marianne sees him for the hero he truly is.

I think he is a reserved romantic, whereas Marianne is an overt one. The nice comparison between Colonel Brandon and his counterpart, Willoughby, is to show that the true test of love is in trial and time. Colonel Brandon succeeds on both counts.
Does anyone think Captain Wentworth might go here too?

Some examples of a Subtle Servant in movies and books are:

Red Shirt in Laura Frantz’s fantastic novel, Courting Morrow Little.

Wade Sawyer and Grant Cooper in Mary Connealy’s Montana Marriages series.
I think Griff from Laurie Alice Eakes novel Choices of the Heart might fit here too

Maybe Jack Buchanan from Liz Curtis Higgs amazing novel, Mine is the Light, might fall into this mix too.

I see David, in my upcoming release The Thorn Keeper, as this type of hero too.

  Okay - it's your turn.

Can you think of a book you’ve read…or one you are writing, where the hero matches either of these descriptions?

What about all you Austen fans out there? Do you have a soft-spot in your heart for any of the ‘quieter’ Austen heroes?


Anonymous said...

David Ross is SO the Subtle Servant type. LOVE HIM.
And um I love this post--my top two favorite Austen heroes!!! =D (And I love the particular Colonel Brandon you posted a pic of for this post!)

Laura Frantz said...

Wonderful post! I often fine if the hero isn't right I abandon the book! Heroes might carry more weight than heroines. For me, Heroes are more fun to write. Maybe because I live w/ so much testosterone 😊📚!

Amber Perry said...

Love this! And I do agree with Laura. The hero has to be good, or it can destroy my interest in a book. I will say that Colonel Brandon is my favorite Austen hero! *swoon*

Bonnie Roof said...

Wonderful post, Pepper - thank you!! I don't know of two heroes I love any more than Patrick O'Connor and Red Shirt - guess I'm a little "daffy" about ALL of the types of literary heroes you mentioned, lol!!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Pep, fun post, girlfriend, but then heroes are definitely my thang, so I'm totally onboard with Laura and Amber that if the hero doesn't grab my attention, I'm outta there.

Never thought of Patrick O'Connor as a reluctant hero, I you nailed it, my friend, so thank you for including him in this great post!


Mary Connealy said...

Thanks for including Alex and Logan in your examples.

I'm trying to remember hero types.

I know the more alpha kind are easier and more common.

Unknown said...


I do love that servant-type! And I love talking about all of the hero-types. We'll find out what examples are in some of the other types too :-)

Unknown said...

TOTALLY agree with you, Julie, and Amber. The hero really makes the book for me. I LOVE a good hero, no matter if he's an alpha or not, if he carries those heroic traits, whether overt, subtle, or somewhere in between, it's one of the most important aspects of the story for me.

Unknown said...

I'm with you! I get a little 'daffy' about a good hero too :-)