Creating the villains in a romance novel can be a lot of fun. One type of villain is the Extremely Evil Villain – the truly treacherous mastermind of evil schemes. In historical novels, he’s usually intent on capturing the heroine and eloping with her (either because he desires her madly or because he wants her fortune). Or he could be the hero’s arch-enemy who is looking for a way to seek revenge – and what better way to do that than by stealing his enemy’s lady-love?
Then you can have the Comedic Villain or the Bumbling
Buffoon… this kind of villain is usually the most entertaining to create. Just
think of Mr Collins in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. His stuffiness and
lack of humour and intelligence make him a truly memorable and annoying
character… and although it’s a little strong to call him a villain, perhaps,
the negative emotional reaction he engenders in me as a reader causes me to
sneak him into this category!
Of course, a romantic novel is often not complete without
the requisite Villainess – she comes in many shapes and forms, but the common
denominator of the Villainess is that she usually hates the heroine! Miss
Bingley in Pride and Prejudice is a classic example of a Villainess with her
snobbish nature and nasty character, but Elizabeth Bennett is more than a match
for her in wit, intelligence and humour, and Mr Darcy falls in love with
Elizabeth, rather than the unpleasant Miss Bingley, which is a truly satisfying
It may seem as if romance novels feature a number of
stereotypes – the strong masculine hero vs the evil villain; the charming
heroine vs the nasty villainess, however I would venture to say that if you dig
a little below the surface of a romance novel you may discover hidden messages
of hope as well as joy. Of course we’re all a mix of good and bad – and I’m
sure we’ve all been heroic on some occasions and cowardly on others. We’re
human after all, and the nature of being human is our fallibility.
Romance novels focus on good triumphing over evil, which is
often symbolised with the hero vs villain theme in a story. And this usually
culminates with the requisite HEA (happily ever after), where the hero triumphs
over all the odds and rides away victoriously with the heroine on his
People who focus on good things are often happy in
themselves. And focusing on happiness is a recipe for actually becoming more
happy. Sadness and tragedy are part of life, but so are happiness and joy. And
yet stories which focus on tragedy and the darker side of humanity are often
seen as more representative of life than stories that focus on comedy or love.
A tragedy is always taken more seriously than a romance and I question this.
Why should something that is considered more “realistic” because it features
darker themes be more acclaimed than a joyful story?
If you watch the news on television or read newspapers the
focus is usually on the negative, and the good is often left unreported. I’d
say the same applies in the literary world. Books focusing on tragedy are often
commended but the happy stories go unreported. And that saddens me. Sometimes
we all need a HEA.