B’ironic’ heroes

What makes a hero, well, a hero?

His charisma? His chivalry? His looks? Any girl would reply it’s a mix. Don’t forget the ‘sense of humor’ that makes a guy tick (pun totally intended).

If you read classics, though, you would be surprised (or not) at the kind of ‘men,’ girls unwittingly fall for. They are called the Byronic heroes. Who is a Byronic hero? We can give our heart felt thanks to Lord Byron for having created this breed of ‘dark’ heroes. Bronte sisters successfully created the most memorable of Byronic heroes. Be it, Mr. Rochester or Mr. Heathcliff.

Who can forget the oh-so-flawed Heathcliff? Or even Mr. Rochester? They are moody, passionate (in more ways than one), unpredictable, mysterious and appear ruthless. They do not believe in societal institutions or any set of moral codes. Yet, our heroines love them. “He made me love him without even looking at me,” writes Charlotte Bronte.
Is it then so surprising that some schools of psychology believe that girls are masochists?

All of us might have watched/read ‘He’s Just Not That Into You.’ The entire premise of the movie/book is to drill it into girls’ heads that they should not put up with their boyfriend/husband’s crap. And yet, Greg Behrendt, the author of HJNTIY writes that girls write to him about guys who don’t respond to their texts/calls. I have it from good sources that HJNTIY is the new Bible for all girls who are interested in finding ever lasting love. Greg Behrendt also does us girls a huge favor and suggests that we girls should, as a rule, not give players a second look.

Every single time I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I cannot help but think, have girls evolved at all?
Do we still fall for ‘bad boys,’ or ‘players’ as they are called. Are we really masochists? Do we secretly crave pain? Is it pain that we are looking for, or are we looking for those intense emotions which make us feel alive? No doubt happiness is something we all wish for, but, do we attract pain because they make us feel like nothing else does?

Rumi writes, God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one. This got me thinking, maybe it is not as much as suffering as it is our wish to learn through opposites that make us actively seek all kinds of experiences.

Let’s think of this from another perspective. What is wrong with falling in love with men who are heroes, precisely because they are anti-heroes (or non-traditional heroes). They, unashamedly, brag about their above average intelligence, have some kind of belief system of their own, and do as they please. Maybe it is not as much as pain (through our interactions) with them, but it is the precise nature of their devil-may-care attitude that makes us love them. Maybe the attraction does not lie in the fact that they are made up of entirely different material, but, represent our own ‘darkness,’ our alter-ego if you will.

Dark heroes or not. Love or not. Each one of us has another side to us, completely/partially hidden beneath a carefully placed mask. This mask slips every now and then and people refer to them as ‘mood swings.’ Such innocuous name for a struggle that gives. Remember Jean from X-men, rather, remember Phoenix? These mood swings, perhaps, are nature’s way of stating that, no matter how hard you try, darkness will eventually play out. But the beauty of it is the fact that darkness is not the same as evil. Unless we learn to love the ‘true self and the ‘false self,’ how ever will we love ourselves completely?

I have to quote Rumi again, no one puts it better than he. “You are a lover of your own experience … not of me … you turn to me to feel your own emotion…”

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