‘I looked at the time. Damn, I was late again. Cursing myself, I rushed through not caring how I looked. I need to get there quickly… Poof! I hit something hard and fall down. Ouch! I was about to yell at the person who bumped into me but as I lifted my head, I was met with the most gorgeous pair of blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re enthralling… pulling me into an abyss…’
There! That’s exactly where the trouble starts. Why can’t you understand that all pairs of blue eyes (or brown or black or grey for that matter) are GORGEOUS!
P.S. – That wasn’t for you, dear reader; I’m just trying to knock some sense into the character.
Love or just Bad Romance?
But let’s talk about that, shall we? Not the dreamy blue eyes belonging to a face chiseled beyond perfection resting on a neck so slender making a path to sweaty biceps followed by perfect abs because apparently every guy the heroine bumps into, looks like Adonis and vice versa. That’s a topic for another day…
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No, let’s talk about how the unlikely or even the despised protagonist’s actions are justified in romance novels because the character’s lover cannot stop himself/herself from melting into their arms as they lock their irises with a gaze ‘oh-so-intense.’
Writing romance is not easy. It’s one of the most crucial pieces of writing after comedy since the writer’s goal is neither to dive into intense feelings himself/herself nor is to make the character feel. It is to make you feel. It is to make you tremble and breathless and crying and wailing over them. That’s what makes a romance novel power-packed.
Lately, though, it seems as though romantic books are taking a different route—the path of toxicity. I agree toxicity might be necessary for spots, and writing it is rewarding itself but is glamorizing it really the way to make a successful novel?
When I first read Twilight, I was immediately taken by Edward Cullen. The protective, caring boyfriend of Bella seemed to be the perfect character anyone could ask for. But when I read it for the second time, I noticed that Edward, far from perfect, was actually a villain in disguise. Surprised? You shouldn’t be because when Edward admitted to watching Bella sleep, he basically stated – ‘By the way, I get into your room without your knowledge or permission and watch you sleep like a freak.’ I know there are many definitions of a hero, but this just matches a stalker’s traits.
Or how about when he made up his mind to control and manipulate Bella by not allowing her to talk or visit her best friend. Yet, Edward isn’t to be blamed for all as Bella was unhealthily obsessed with the vampire as opposed to being in love with him. However, all of these are supremely converted to – ‘Oh, how romantic is it that Edward watches her sleep and is protective of her.’ (Eddie did the same to Chandler in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, but that was freaky, wasn’t it?)
Sadly, Edward is just the base of the cake as similar characters like Cristian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey, Hardin Scott from After, Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, Amy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, etc. If you look close enough, Severus Snape, one of the Harry Potter series’ legendary characters, was toxic. But placing Snape aside (as there are too many factors to take into consideration), the rest of the splendidly toxic characters paint a unique picture around them that readers don’t actually view them as they should be – Villains!
No matter, I definitely admire these sneaky, disguised characters, and they could be toxic all they want. What crushes me is that in the end, none of the characters got what they deserved. Instead, they were served happy endings on a silver platter. After, perhaps disappointed me the most since it was a captivating story but met the old school cliché of giving a happy ending to such a possessed character. Isn’t it high time that other options were explored for negative heroes/ heroines rather than seducing the readers to justify their happy endings, making romance seem okay no matter how badly it’s conceived?
Of course, you may argue with me that these characters are works of fiction and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Sure, that may be true, but ask yourself this… Do we really need such creepy and toxic characters, no matter how great they’ve been written (not you, Christian Grey), to make for an Epic Romance?
Maheen is an explorer who seeks adventure in the pages of different books. What she reads, she pens; what she doesn’t read, she creates!