Friday, May 22, 2009

Darcy v. Heathcliff

A while ago, a friend and I were having a discussion about great heroes of romantic literature. I put forth my long-held theory that ALL romance heroes are one of two types, and that therefore all romance-loving women are one of two types too - either Darcy women or Heathcliff women.

No, I do not have any scientific research to back me up. But I do have a lot of anecdotal evidence. Over the years, I've talked to a lot of women about these two great romantic archetypes and the one thing I keep finding is that most women seem to go one way or the other. I never meet a woman who says, I love Darcy and I love Heathcliff too.

Nope, never happens. Someone inevitably says, Well, I suppose Heathcliff is okay if you like the domineering, manipulative sort, but oh, that Mr. Darcy! Or they might say: Darcy? That old stick in the mud? Give me a real man of feeling like Heathcliff any day!

To me, the reason is obvious. Heathcliff and Darcy are complete opposites. One is bitter and brooding and dangerously obessed with his woman; the other is aloof and unemotional but steadfastly faithful to his.

I think there's an underlying suspicion that Heathcliff will be the more passionate lover of the two, but personally, I doubt that. I think Heathcliff would probably be a real wham, bam, thank-you-ma'am type, to be honest. Because he's all about what he wants. And if he can't have Catherine, then he'll destroy anyone and everything in order to exact his revenge. In a way, it's flattering to know a guy wants you that much, I suppose. But I think it plays way better in a book than it does in real life. I've never been the victim of such obsessive devotion, and I hope I never am. I've had a few friends who lived with that kind of passion - mostly it just ended very badly, with lots of bruises and black eyes from their passionate but insanely jealous lover.

In some cases, age probably affects which hero you find more attractive. All that burning intensity in Heathcliff looks real exciting when you're very young. But after he's given you the third-degree for just speaking to another man a few times, that attitude can lose its appeal.

And that's when you start to see the merits of that old stick in the mud, Mr. Darcy. There's a lot to be said for that slightly snobby, aloof guy who doesn't fall all over you but shows up when your whole world is falling apart and bails you out of the mess. Then tells you to think nothing of it. Heathcliff wants to possess you; Darcy wants to take care of you.

And now I guess you can tell from my analysis which camp I belong to! So what about you? Are you a Darcy girl or a Heathcliff devotee?


  1. Hey Lynn!
    You know, I never really thought about it before, but you're absolutely right----'ya just can't be both. You're either Heathcliff or Darcy---there just ain't no combining the two.

    And, as it so happens, you've not only picked my fave as yours, but my fave Darcy----Colin Firth all the way, Girlfriend!

    Take care and have a great holiday!

  2. Ellen - I do feel that Colin is the definitive Mr. Darcy, although Matthew MacFayden did a pretty good job in the latest version. But Colin's the one for me.

  3. Hi Lynn,
    Ooh you have made it hard, I think I still have to go with the dark, dangerous brooding types like Heathcliff, I love them, write about them, but thankfully didn't marry one.

  4. Ah, that's the perfect solution, Margaret! And I do have to admit to a bit of a weakness for Ralph Fiennes' almost psychotic rendition of Heathcliff. Very edgy but sexy.

  5. OK. Where did my comment go? I was saying, I enjoyed this post very much and am one of those weird women who love them both. But if I must choose would go with the safer choice, Mr. Darcy.

  6. See, I would never have thought of these 2 guys as the "either/or" hero examples. Me? I've always used my own example - Are you a Rhett or an Ashley girl?

    And the entire subset of Stephanie Plum fans? All you have to ask is: "Morelli? Or Ranger?" and you get a huge whoopin and hollerin response from everyone.

    What a great post - filled with insight (Alpha v. Beta males, anyone?) and some chuckles. Never quite thought of Heathcliff as the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am type before...a whole new take!

  7. Lise - I was never too keen on Rhett (those ears were such a turnoff for me) or Ashley, but if forced to choose, I would have to go with Rhett, that dashing rascal. Ashley always looked kind of frail to me!

    As for Morelli or Ranger - the answer is simple: Diesel.

  8. Very cool post, Lynn! I want Darcy in real life but I want to read about Heathcliff when it comes to my fiction. How's that for indecision?

    Never liked Rhett or Ashley, however, I love both Morelli and Ranger. *grin*

  9. I love Heathcliff and I love Darcy! <3 I am the only one?