We all love heroes and heroines, but these goody two-shoe characters are being put in a corner. I’m putting the spotlight on their equally hot cousins. Today we are delving into what made me fall in love with the romance genre and spurred my quest to become a romance writer.
What are Anti-heroes?
Anti-heroes according to literarydevices.net are:
A literary device used by writers for a prominent character in a play or book that has characteristics opposite to that of a conventional hero. The protagonist is generally admired for his bravery, strength, charm, ingenuity etc. while an anti-hero is typically clumsy, unsolicited, and unskilled and has both good and bad qualities.
- a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.
Neither one of these live up to the panty- melting characters that have graced the screen and literature world. Below are seven in depth profiles of the heroes devious cousins.
- Pretty Woman
Anti-hero: Edward Lewis
Richard Gere played corporate raider Edward Lewis. Edward’s job was to literally rape and pillage troubled companies for profit. If that didn’t help his bad boy status, his best friend was a self-absorbed prick. When Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) comes into his life, she becomes nothing more than another one of his many employees. But Vivian peels back the cynicism to reveal a kind heart inside this bad boy. He changes his pillaging ways and even tries to conquer his fear of heights to the get girl. When Vivian ‘saves him right back’ the bad boy is redeemed.
- Silver Linings Playbook
Anti-hero: Pat Solitano.
When Pat Solitano( Bradley Cooper) enters the screen he’s a text book anti-hero. He’s clumsy, neurotic, and selfish. His story begins with him freshly out of a mental institution. It doesn’t look like he has romantic bone in his body. He spends two thirds of the movie obsessing about his ex-wife, who clearly wants nothing to do with him. But underneath this mental movie is a sweet love story. But when Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) beats his crazy with her own, he wises up and ends the unrequited obsession. When he reveals his true feelings for Tiffany, Pat’s redeemed.
- You’ve Got Mail
Anti-hero: Joe Fox
This 1998 classic was single handedly my inspiration for becoming a writer. Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) was an absolute jerk in the movie. He pushed Kathleen Kelly ( Meg Ryan) to close her family business. Antagonizes her in public. But the worst one is when he finds out she’s the girl he’s been e-mailing. He pranks her, allowing her to think the man of her dreams is a faker. So how does this grouch redeem himself? Once Kathleen’s business is kaput she falls into a depression. Joe takes care of her, despite the fact that Kathleen calls him every name in the book. When Joe reveals he’s her dream man, Kathleen sighs with relief and says “I wanted it to be you.” I did too.
Anti-hero: Mr. Grey
Love isn’t always sweet and pretty. This office romance is a dark one. Mr. Grey (James Spader) is a full blown sadist. He makes Christian Grey look like a cuddly kitten. Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a shy woman, perfect fodder for domineering Mr. Grey who her spanks her when she makes typos. But Lee is a woman who likes to cut herself when she’s emotionally overwhelmed. Mr. Grey’s strict nature and unconventional attitude provide her a safe environment where she can experience pain without the consequences. Her pushes to the limit, thinking she can’t possibly love his perverse mind. To prove she loves him Lee sits at his desk for days without food or water. In the end he rewards her undying devotion. He marries her, thereby giving her a life where she safely deal with the world.
- He’s Just Not that Into You
When Justin Long’s character says “you’re not the exception, you’re the rule.” Who didn’t want to jump through the screen and strangle him?
Alex (Justin Long) is your boy next door. Everyone likes and respects him. He’s also the cynic that’ll every ruin every romantic dream you have. That’s what he does to Gigi Haim. For two thirds of the move, Alex exposes her to the harsh truths of how men feel about her. Poor Gigi is a sweet bubbly girl, but men don’t call her after the second date. When Gigi comes on to him, Alex shuts her down, breaking the poor girl’s heart. But when Gigi stops coming around, Alex realizes he’s fallen for her. The jerk rushes to Gigi’s apartment and he’s happy to discover his cynicism never rubbed off on Gigi.
- Beautiful Bastard
Anti-hero: Bennett Ryan
My favorite modern literary equivalent is Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
This dynamic duo created a story that set the interwebs on fire. Bennet Ryan makes Edward Lewis look like a teddy bear. He’s ruthless, and his acerbic mouth is no match for any woman. Until he meet Chloe Mills. A sexy independent woman, who’s not afraid to tell Bennett off. The only problem is she’s his assistant. As they enter a secret love affair Bennett tries to keep a cold distance between them, but the more he gets to know Chloe, he realizes he’ll have to shed his bastard attitude and give Chloe the respect she deserves if he wants her in his life and his bed.
Classic literary equivalent
- Gone with the wind
Anti-heroine: Scarlett O’Hara
In this case our protagonist is an anti-heroine. Bad girls can be just as sexy as their male counterparts. Scarlett O’hara is desperately in love with Ashly Wilkes. Unfortunately the man only has eyes for one woman. His wife. Scarlett spends three fourths of the book pinning for Wilkes all the while marrying men for the money to rebuild her precious family plantation. When she marries Rhett Butler she realizes once it’s too late that he’s the truth love of her life. When Rhett turns her down, Scarlett’s unwavering optimism prompts one of the most famous quotes in history. “Tomorrow is another day”.
What are some of your favorite anti-heroes?