Who Is Your Romantic Hero?

RH01Who is your idea of a romantic hero? Mr D’Arcy? Captain Jack Sparrow? Christian Grey?

I have an alternative to suggest to you, and I’ll explain why.

First, let’s look at what makes a romantic hero.

According to Wikipedia,

The Romantic hero is a literary archetype referring to a character that rejects established norms and conventions, has been rejected by society, and has the self as the center of his or her own existence.”

Using this definition we can see how D’Arcy fits the bill: he rejects the expectations of his position in society to follow his heart and pledge his love to Elizabeth Bennett.  And, judging from his letters, he seems extremely introspective and at war with his emotions much of the time.

But what would your definitions of a romantic hero be? Personally, he’d have to be smart, have a great sense of humour and be kind to animals. He would be willing to sacrifice his own ambitions to be with his love, put her desires on at least an equal footing with, or above, his own, and possibly have a troubled past which he struggles to overcome. Looking like Rufus Sewell wouldn’t hurt either.

Literature and cinema is littered with these ciphers and there can’t be a woman – or man – out there who hasn’t had a crush on at least one of them. Today, I’d like to suggest an alternative romantic hero to you: Hannibal Lecter.

Hear me out. If you don’t want to know about the character’s arc from Hannibal Rising through to Hannibal, stop reading now.

Lecter is a man with an extremely troubled past. He saw his sister eaten by the enemy during the war, he lost his position in society, and his family’s wealth was taken from them. Is it little wonder that these experiences damaged him so badly? For whatever reasons, he turns to canibalism himself, is caught and ends up in solitary confinement, using every opportunity he can to lash out and destroy others.

Then he meets Clarice.

He senses that Clarice too has been damaged and finds himself attracted to the much younger woman. He has many opportunities to kill her the way he has killed so many others before her, yet he doesn’t. He cares for her, and takes care of her. At the end of his story – or, at least, the end of what we have been told about him – he chooses to kill a man who has been rude to Clarice. Rude. He hasn’t physically hurt the young woman and Clarice seems well equipped to look after herself, but in the ultimate expression of chivalry, he takes Paul Krendler’s life because he insults his love.

RH02As if this wasn’t enough proof of his romantic hero credentials, when Clarice handcuffs him to herself, he cuts off his own hand to retain his freedom rather than hurt her.

In the movie, Hannibal escapes and Clarice is left confused and stunned by what the Doctor has done. In the book, she runs off with him and spends her life traveling in great comfort, accompanying her cannibal lover as he evades capture.

When I read the book, I couldn’t understand why Thomas Harris wrote this ending. Now, fourteen years later, I can see why she did it. What greater expression of love can there be than a man willingly inflicting great pain and disfigurement on himself to take care of the woman he loves?

So, do you agree? Can you see Hannibal Lecter as a romantic hero or will Mr D’Arcy forever hold your heart?

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40 Comments

  1. Margot Kinberg
    Jun 6, 2013

    Nettie – I have to say I wouldn’t pick Hannibal Lecter as my romantic hero. But I do understand the point you’re making. I’ll have to think about that one…

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Ha! I’m looking forward to hearing who you would pick, Margot x

  2. Margot Kinberg
    Jun 6, 2013

    Nettie – I have to say I wouldn’t pick Hannibal Lecter as my romantic hero. But I do understand the point you’re making. I’ll have to think about that one…

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Ha! I’m looking forward to hearing who you would pick, Margot x

  3. mary mayfield
    Jun 6, 2013

    I’ll stick with Mr D’Arcy, thanks.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Mr D’Arcy is a great choice, Mary. I’m not saying I’m not totally in love with him, just that there might be alternatives…? ~:0)

      • mary mayfield
        Jun 7, 2013

        There are a lot of pleasanter alternatives though before I’d consider Hannibal Lecter!

  4. mary mayfield
    Jun 6, 2013

    I’ll stick with Mr D’Arcy, thanks.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Mr D’Arcy is a great choice, Mary. I’m not saying I’m not totally in love with him, just that there might be alternatives…? ~:0)

      • mary mayfield
        Jun 7, 2013

        There are a lot of pleasanter alternatives though before I’d consider Hannibal Lecter!

  5. M. J. Joachim
    Jun 7, 2013

    No, Hannibal Lecter is not a hero in my book. He’s a head case, and Clarice is a head case for staying with him. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” Now this is one romantic hero if you ask me!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Oh, yes, I had forgotten about Rhett Butler. Another great choice!

  6. M. J. Joachim
    Jun 7, 2013

    No, Hannibal Lecter is not a hero in my book. He’s a head case, and Clarice is a head case for staying with him. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” Now this is one romantic hero if you ask me!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Oh, yes, I had forgotten about Rhett Butler. Another great choice!

  7. Ailsa Abraham
    Jun 7, 2013

    Unfortunately I haven’t read Hannibal (it is in the vast library of books I will get around to one day) but I do take your point, Nettie. Just being brave or good looking doesn’t quite cut it, there has to be an element of self-sacrifice too. In that vein I am going to stick with my childhood hero, Biggles. Being a tomboy I devoured all the Biggles books and in my early days wanted to be him, principled, courageous, noble in a way if very much “of his time”. As I got older I wondered why Capt. W.E.Johns never gave him a love interest. Then I realise that the books were aimed at boys who were not yet out of the “yuk gurlies” phase. The only encounter Biggles has is with a gorgeous French woman who helps him when he makes a crash-landing but he does not take advantage. Tempted although he is by this “vision of loveliness in blue” (see I remember the words exactly) he gives her a brotherly hug before climbing back into his machine and roaring off into the sky, never to see her again. That, dear readers, is romance!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      That is so sad, Ailsa! I can see why he’s your hero xxx

  8. Ailsa Abraham
    Jun 7, 2013

    Unfortunately I haven’t read Hannibal (it is in the vast library of books I will get around to one day) but I do take your point, Nettie. Just being brave or good looking doesn’t quite cut it, there has to be an element of self-sacrifice too. In that vein I am going to stick with my childhood hero, Biggles. Being a tomboy I devoured all the Biggles books and in my early days wanted to be him, principled, courageous, noble in a way if very much “of his time”. As I got older I wondered why Capt. W.E.Johns never gave him a love interest. Then I realise that the books were aimed at boys who were not yet out of the “yuk gurlies” phase. The only encounter Biggles has is with a gorgeous French woman who helps him when he makes a crash-landing but he does not take advantage. Tempted although he is by this “vision of loveliness in blue” (see I remember the words exactly) he gives her a brotherly hug before climbing back into his machine and roaring off into the sky, never to see her again. That, dear readers, is romance!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      That is so sad, Ailsa! I can see why he’s your hero xxx

  9. d
    Jun 7, 2013

    Have you seen the film Secretary? I find that incredibly romantic – there is something about two damaged people being able to give each other what they need, and doing so regardless, that gets me every time. I used to love ‘Natural Born Killers’ for the same reason but can’t stomach the violence in that anymore, sadomasochism is easier to watch…what that says about me I daren’t think.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Yes! And James Spader has a certain ‘twinkle’ anyway.
      You like sadomasochism, I like cannibals: we should form a self-help group…
      Thanks for commenting x

  10. d
    Jun 7, 2013

    Have you seen the film Secretary? I find that incredibly romantic – there is something about two damaged people being able to give each other what they need, and doing so regardless, that gets me every time. I used to love ‘Natural Born Killers’ for the same reason but can’t stomach the violence in that anymore, sadomasochism is easier to watch…what that says about me I daren’t think.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Yes! And James Spader has a certain ‘twinkle’ anyway.
      You like sadomasochism, I like cannibals: we should form a self-help group…
      Thanks for commenting x

  11. Angela Barton
    Jun 7, 2013

    Hi Nettie

    I hear what you’re saying about the hero being self-sacrificing and protective towards his loved one. But you’ve missed out one thing which is crucial – the hero has to be sexy! You have to feel the electrical bolt of attraction – like when Mr Darcy walks out of the lake, his clothes clinging to his taught body like a second skin, droplets of water decorating his face like tribal markings, his trousers stuck to his muscular thighs, and that handsome face …… you get my drift!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      You mean, you don’t find Hannibal sexy…?
      *innocent face*
      Ha! Good point, Ange, and thanks for sharing xxx

  12. Angela Barton
    Jun 7, 2013

    Hi Nettie

    I hear what you’re saying about the hero being self-sacrificing and protective towards his loved one. But you’ve missed out one thing which is crucial – the hero has to be sexy! You have to feel the electrical bolt of attraction – like when Mr Darcy walks out of the lake, his clothes clinging to his taught body like a second skin, droplets of water decorating his face like tribal markings, his trousers stuck to his muscular thighs, and that handsome face …… you get my drift!

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      You mean, you don’t find Hannibal sexy…?
      *innocent face*
      Ha! Good point, Ange, and thanks for sharing xxx

    • Faye Bruun
      Jul 1, 2013

      I beg to differ. I find Anthony Hopkins and the Hannibal character both incredibly sexy.

      • Nettie
        Jul 1, 2013

        Ah, Faye, a woman after my own heart!
        Thanks for taking the time to comment x

  13. Angela Barton
    Jun 7, 2013

    Sorry – pressed submit in my excitement and forgot to say ‘bye!’
    Love Ange xx

  14. Angela Barton
    Jun 7, 2013

    Sorry – pressed submit in my excitement and forgot to say ‘bye!’
    Love Ange xx

  15. Glynis Smy
    Jun 7, 2013

    Mr. Darcy wouldn’t make me feel nervous at mealtimes, so I will stick with him! 😀 I can see what you mean about the sacrifice made for love, though.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Ha! Good point! xxx

  16. Glynis Smy
    Jun 7, 2013

    Mr. Darcy wouldn’t make me feel nervous at mealtimes, so I will stick with him! 😀 I can see what you mean about the sacrifice made for love, though.

    • Nettie
      Jun 7, 2013

      Ha! Good point! xxx

  17. Chicaderock
    Jun 12, 2013

    Great post Nettie!
    I recently read ‘Tenderness of Wolves” by Steff Penny. Parker. He lingers.

    • Nettie
      Jun 21, 2013

      Ah, yes, I remember that book. It was marvelous and I know what you mean about Parker. xx

  18. Faye Bruun
    Jul 1, 2013

    I think I want to join you on this campaign…but…can we make a Hannibal/Darcy hybrid?

    • Nettie
      Jul 1, 2013

      There’s a book in that… ~;0)

      • Faye Bruun
        Jul 1, 2013

        Quite probably. If anyone ever writes it out, please let me know. >.>

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