Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some thoughts for Valentine's Day

Jo Bourne had an interesting post on her Historical Romance blog yesterday on the subject of why the hero loves the heroine in a romance novel, and I thought it was worth sharing.  Although Diana Gabaldon doesn't write romance novels, many of the points Jo Bourne makes in her post apply extremely well to the OUTLANDER books, and to Jamie and Claire's relationship in particular.

Why does the hero love the heroine?

1) Because of her strengths.

Jamie loves Claire for all her strengths, even when he's occasionally annoyed, angered, or inconvenienced by them.  I think he appreciates her medical skill and knowledge far more than Frank ever did, for one thing.

One of my favorite scenes in ABOSAA is the one where Jamie enumerates Claire's "womanly virtues".
"Ye're proud as Lucifer," he said, interrupting.  He was still smiling, but the words were more serious.  "And ye're brave.  Ye were always bolder than was safe; now ye're fierce as a wee badger."
[...]
"D'ye want to know what it is, really?" he asked, and I could see from the dark blue of his eyes that he meant it.  I nodded, mute.

"Above all creatures on this earth," he whispered, "you are faithful."

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20 ("Dangerous Gifts"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) Because of her weaknesses.

Jamie is a born leader who needs people to protect and care for.  As a Sassenach and a time-traveler, Claire's unfamiliarity with the customs and culture of the 18th century -- not to mention her tendency to speak and/or act impulsively! -- often gets her into trouble, and she ends up needing Jamie's help to get out of various dangerous or awkward situations.

I've always thought it was sweet that the very things that Claire seems to dislike the most about her own body (her wild, unruly hair and her "generous" bottom) are precisely the same things that Jamie seems to appreciate the most. <g>

3) Because she has something he needs.

I love the scene just after Jamie returns from visiting Laoghaire in ECHO:
"Have ye ever been in the slightest doubt that I need ye?” he demanded.

It took roughly half a second of thought to answer this.

“No,” I replied promptly. “To the best of my knowledge, you needed me urgently the moment I saw you. And I haven’t had reason to think you’ve got any more self-sufficient since."

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 79 ("The Cave"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
That makes me laugh every time I read it, because it's so true.

4) Because together they do what neither can do alone.  The two are greater than the sum of their parts.

This is certainly true of Jamie and Claire.  I love watching them as a team, attuned to one another's slightest movements -- for example, in the scene in ABOSAA when they team up to defend the Big House from Richard Brown and his men.

And on a deeper level, Jamie and Claire both complement and complete one another.
"You are my courage, as I am your conscience," he whispered.  "You are my heart--and I your compassion.  We are neither of us whole, alone.  Do you not know that, Sassenach?"

"I do know that," I said, and my voice shook.  "That's why I'm so afraid.  I don't want to be half a person again, I can't bear it."

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16 ("The First Law of Thermodynamics"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
At one point in ABOSAA, someone (Lizzie?) refers to the Beardsley twins as "one soul in twa bodies", or words to that effect.  I have always thought of Jamie and Claire like that.  One soul, two bodies, joined so deeply that not even death itself can separate them.

5) Because it is natural for him to love.

Here's one of my favorite Jamie-quotes of the whole series:
"To have ye with me again--to talk wi' you--to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts--God, Sassenach," he said, "the Lord knows I am lust-crazed as a lad, and I canna keep my hands from you--or anything else--" he added, wryly, "but I would count all that well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin' ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart."

(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27 ("Up in Flames"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jo concludes, "These are the same reasons the heroine loves the hero."

I couldn't have put that better myself.  (Oh, and do take the time to read Jo's original post.  It's worth reading at least as much for the pictures, which are terrific, as for her comments about heroes and heroines.)

Wishing all of you a very happy Valentine's Day tomorrow!

6 comments:

Deniz Bevan said...

Lovely analysis, Karen! I love using Jamie and Claire as an example for everything [g]

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Karen! Nice blog entry.

Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Deniz! I had fun putting the quotes together.

Karen

Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Anon, and the same to you!

Karen

Susan said...

I second what they said!

Susan H.

Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Susan! Glad you liked it.

Karen