Musings on Fiction and Tropes

The Romantic Hero – Has He Really Changed That Much?


Think about the romantic heroes you love. The ones from your childhood, the ones who formed your idea about what romance looks like. Now think about what you like today – how far have they changed?  Shows and films and books and tropes get tweaked, but I believe that, at heart, what we look for in romantic heroes has remained much the same.


The first romances in Western literature were those that stemmed from the chivalric adventure tradition, but began to focus on courtly love and devotion from the 14th Century. Familiar characters might include Sir Lancelot, whose love for Guinevere is legendary, and the tragedy of Tristan and Isolde.  From the late 18th century the romance had moved from the gothic adventure to a story with a female protagonist focusing on the development of a courtship.  The proliferation of the novel and the lending library and serialisation is likely to have had a big impact on the shifting nature of the romance. The heroes of these works exemplified the traits valued by the age they were in, but the fact that they still resonate with us says much. Continue reading “The Romantic Hero – Has He Really Changed That Much?”