Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

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Throughout history the idea of the hero or heroine has changed, but some common attributes remain. The hero claims Bill Butler: “is an archetypal figure, a paradigm who bears the possibilities of life, courage, love – the indefinable’s which themselves define our human lives” . In his seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell states that the hero: “a personage of exceptional gifts” is “the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms” . It is apparent that heroism is an essential part of human behaviour and human endeavour, therefore the idea of the hero is at the centre of our cultural thinking. While we should not worship the hero, Jenni Calder asserts that because the hero: “represents the best that is in ourselves” we should be open in our response to the hero.

A good Romance writer presents heroines who are strong and powerful and whom demonstrate the possibilities of being female. It is only after they have made themselves happy and created a better life for themselves that they are able to find love. As a reader we are able to identify with such a protagonist, and in a sense we leap into the book and see the heroine’s world through her own eyes.

The Romanic heroine that we know today was born in the nineteenth century. Whilst it is true that Romantic novels had existed previously, the heroines of such books were continually having something done to them. They were so downtrodden that it was almost impossible to identify with them.

The first gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1704) by Horace Walpole tells the story of a maiden bride attempting to escape her would be father in law, prevented by super natura...

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...o behave or think. The expression “anti heroine” refers to those characters that display either the positive or negative qualities of the heroine, enabling the reader to be able to identify with the heroine. In Austen’s novel’s it is normal that the anti heroine will be in contest with the heroine for the hero’s love, although this is not does what makes the anti-heroine a bad person. Rather the anti heroine, often posse’s admiral qualities. However with the arguable exception of Jane Fairfax in Emma, the anti heroine lacks the essential moral core which ultimately characterises an Austen heroine. In comparing and contrasting both the characters and actions of the heroines with the anti heroines in the novel, the strong character’s of Austen’s leading ladies and the journey which they take is able to be understood as she grows personally and rationally with others.

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