Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Holding Out for a Hero

I wasn't familiar with this song until I saw Shrek 2, but gotta love it. Click here to hear a snippet of the song on Amazon sung by Bonnie Tyler.

My favorite literary hero is Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice, especially as played by Colin Firth though Matthew Macfadyen is pretty darn close. Yes, he's dark and brooding, but what truly makes him a hero is he loves Lizzy even though she's beneath him in social status. In the Regency era such inferiority was a great chasm. Try as he might, he can't suppress his feelings. By the end of the book/movie, he's not quite the cold, proud man we believed. The heroes of our books are always larger than life, but what truly makes a hero? I'm sure it differs with all of us.

There are the heroes we haven't personally met. The policemen and firemen who put their lives on the line every day. The nurses and teachers who put people above money.

I'm always irked by women who have to ask their husband's permission to do something or go somewhere. They're not children. My husband doesn't bat an eye when I tell him I'm going to a conference or workshop.

DH is good with his hands. Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm not going to talk about THAT on the internet. He's a mechanical genius and can fix anything--car, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, painting. Of course, with the good comes the bad. He can be slow about doing those things that aren't completely broken.

One thing that makes my DH a hero is his support. When I first said I wanted to write a novel, he didn't laugh or snicker or tell me it was impossible. He went shopping with me to buy a word processor. He doesn't complain about a lack of housekeeping or home cooking. Heck, if I'm busy with writing or anything else, he'll cook dinner. He's never read a word I've written, yet he's quick to proudly tell relatives, friends, and strangers that I'm an author. It doesn't bother me that he doesn't read my work. It's not his "thing" and that's all right. He couldn't be more supportive.

If I set to go to a meeting or book signing that's too far to drive because of my back, he'll hop in the car and drive. He can always find something to do while I'm busy, then be back to pick me up and drive us home.

I personally would rather have a trusting, supportive man like my husband then one who showers me with flowers. And I do get the flowers occasionally. Do you prefer a alpha or beta hero? A man who brings flowers or is there for you? So, tell us what makes a hero in your eyes.


Kathy said...

I have always loved Mr. Darcy in whatever version has been created for the screen. There have been some good ones from the BBC. I really like Matthew MacFayden's Mr. Darcy and can't stop watching the movie.

A man in uniform! Ah! The perfect alpha hero. My family has a long line of military service so it was fitting that I'd fall for a man in uniform. I, of course, would have probably chased Mr. Wickham like Kitty and Lydia. Although Mr. Darcy's eyes and wit might have stolen my attention before I succumbed to Wickham's charms.


Paula said...

Mmm, Darcy. Really can't go wrong with Darcy.

I'm a sucker for a man in uniform, too, Kathy. Especially a Marine. They're so neat and disciplined and polite, but you can see the fire in their eyes. And in my admittedly limited experience with them, they have a way at looking at you that makes you feel all woman. Even if you're fat and forty. ;)

I like heroes who are loyal. I like heroes who aren't players or womanizers. I want a man who knows the worth of a special woman and willing to carry a torch for her---which reminds me of another Austen hero, Fredrick Wentworth of PERSUASION, who loved his Anne long after he thought all hope was gone.

Ol' Jane knew what made a great hero, didn't she?

Angel said...

I have to agree with Deborah. I'd like to receive flowers more often, but nothing beats a man who is supportive in the small things. My husband has never complained about my writing time or lack of housekeeping. Unless he has to work, he's always willing to watch our children for me to go to a meeting or conference. He's excited about all my achievements-both big and small.
And I'd take one of his compliments over a bunch of flowers any day. :)


Carla Swafford said...

Ohoo, this is a hard one. For a man to be a hero involves so much, but thankfully, he doesn’t have to meet all the criteria.

Looks don’t matter. He can be short and fat, tall and bony, or the usual hunk we love to describe in our novels. No matter what, he has that certain something. Beta or alpha, they all can have it. But that was your question, right? What is that something?

To me, a hero must be compassionate. It can be for the villain that harmed his family – though he has to be careful the villain doesn’t come for him again – or for the heroine that wronged him for real or not, or for his dog or horse when he believes humans aren’t worth the bother. Even a little bit of compassion can give hope of his being redeemable. No matter how obnoxious he’s to everyone else.

My DH loves to watch reruns of Becker. The character is abhorrent most of the time, but last night’s episode had a prime example of what makes a compassionate hero. On a subway train, Becker sits next to an elderly woman who’s unfamiliar with the rail system. After he tries explaining to the woman how she’s going the wrong way, he quickly realizes she is totally baffled by all the subway terminology and decides to help her onto the right train. Before the show is over, he reluctantly helps, despite letting friends down, the lady find the street she needs. It turns out the woman’s son had died in one of the towers during 9/11, but she couldn’t face walking up to street level and see the emptiness of where her son had died. Instead of leaving the woman to sit in her grief alone, he sits next to her and holds her hand. That’s compassion.

To me, a hero must be strong – not necessarily physically – but have a willingness to bear all the weight of what he perceives to be his responsibilities. Even if they’re not. Such as believing it’s his fault that a loved one died, though he had not been there or was not old enough to stop it.

To me, a hero must be driven. It can be by the ghosts of his past or an ambition to improve his lot in life or desire to right a wrong.

To me, a hero must be courageous. Don’t get me wrong. He doesn’t have to pull stupid stunts such as jumping in front of a runaway bus, but willing to go outside his comfort zone. You know that hero. He’s the one afraid of heights, but willing to climb a mountain to save the woman he loves.

My favorite hero is the alpha, especially if he’s a tortured soul. It gets to me. Kinda explains why he’s so rough around the edges or cool as a glass of sweet tea on a hot southern night. Sherrilyn does the tortured hero so well in her Dark Hunter series. Lately, and thankfully, I’ve seen some tortured heroines. Connie Brockway had a wonderful angst-ridden heroine in THE RAVISHING ONE.

I know I’ll think of more traits later, but these are the biggies.

Deborah Matthews said...

>this is a hard one.

We know where Carla's mind is. (g)

Carla Swafford said...

Debbie, you know me too well.