The Endurance of the Byronic Hero

 

A very weird thing happened in my British Literature 2 class a few weeks ago. My completely straight married with two kids professor called Byron dreamy and we ended up talking most of the rest of the class about vampires and the Bronte sisters.

You may wonder how Mr. Rochester, Angel, and Edward are connected to this, but they all came from Byron himself. You see, he created this mythical image for himself that be both wrote about and had to live up to. This became a character type called the Byronic hero, which is defined as follows, “”mad, bad, and dangerous to know”… a Byronic hero is an antihero of the highest order. He (or she) is typically rebellious, arrogant, anti-social or in exile, and darkly, enticingly romantic.”(Credit to Shmoop for the definition). Basically, the Byronic hero is the brooding bad boy that so many women have a thing for. I’ve never really understood it myself, but this may be the origin of it.

Concerning Mr. Rochester, apparently the Bronte sisters had a huge thing for Byron. I could have also used Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.

Modern vampires all take their origin from this. I haven’t actually read or watched Twilight but from what I gained from osmosis in middle school and from watching Vampires Suck, even Mr. ShinyFairy Cullen is not immune to this. I did watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix a few years ago, so I can confirm that Angel does very little else besides brood and brood and brood some more.

There are also several comic book heroes I probably could have put here *cough Batman* *cough Oliver Queen*  but since we didn’t expressly talk about them in the aforementioned class I will spare them.

So what do y’all think? Who did I miss?

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Putting the Female Back in “Strong Female Character”

 

Honestly, I’ve been meaning to write this since the first Supergirl trailer and Age of Ultron came out, but better late than never right?  Here goes.

I’m so excited to watch Supergirl I can barely contain it. Not only is she female superhero and wonderful and all that jazz, she’s a girl. When I say that, I don’t just mean that she’s female. She’s bubbly and feminine and I love it. I feel like with the whole trope of the “Strong Female Character” all we’ve gotten is a guy with boobs, female but not allowed to be feminine.

As an example, I give you Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen Age of Ultron yet I find that sad and I want you to stop reading this and go watch it immediately. For the rest of you, you’ve probably heard about the Black Widow controversy. I want to call bull on that. Essentially what Joss Whedon did was he made her more human and people hated it. Why? Black Widow’s (Natasha Romanoff’s) big thing has been that we haven’t been given much backstory on her so she gets to kick butt and be Russian and we love her for it. In Age of Ultron, we get some of that backstory. As part of the Red Room, her “graduation” was being sterilized. She can’t have kids ever. Now I’m not saying that all women have to have kids. There are a lot of women that don’t want to have kids and that’s fine, but having the ability taken from you is highly traumatic. Your autonomy has been taken from you in a way. You can no longer change your mind later if you end up wanting to have kids. Not only is this emotionally traumatic, but it’s traumatic to the person herself. Sterilization can cause all kinds of problems, not the least of which is early menopause. The fact that Natasha has been sterilized is very humanizing for her character and it disrupts the mysterious persona she has been given. But why can’t she kick butt and be human, in a distinctly female way?

After this, I was watching Legally Blonde and I realized that Elle Woods was exactly the person I’d been looking for.

Yes. Elle Woods can totally own law school while wearing pink and yet we don’t call her a strong female character. Again I ask why? I think it’s because she doesn’t fit the “man with boobs and a gun” label. She’s intelligent, she’s opinionated, and she spends her free time getting her nails done. Why can’t she have it all?

In the middle of the spectrum marches the wonderful Agent Peggy Carter. She’s gorgeous, she can kick butt in heels, and she can cry because some douchebag shot her roommate in the head. She’s allowed to care and have emotion without us thinking she is weak, because we all know she could kill us with a stapler if she were ever so inclined.

This is the next step. Now that we’ve established that women can be strong, we have to establish that they don’t have to be pseudo masculine to do so. I may or may not be able to beat you senseless with a stapler. That shouldn’t be the qualification for being a strong woman.

What do y’all think?