15 December 2012

The Dark. The Delicious. The Scrooge?

Marley's ghost confronts Scrooge.
(John Leech, 1843)
My husband claims the lessons of A Christmas Carol are in keeping with any situation.  I thought he was blowing smoke until I sat down to write my “Dark and Delicious Heroes” post for this month’s Beyond the Veil.
 
Scrooge is the ultimate dark romantic hero.  Who knew?
 
Seriously.  He’s older.  (Way older.)  He’s intelligent, frighteningly competent and experienced in a variety of lethal skills.  You think Jason Bourne’s a killer?  When it comes to kill counts, the Jason’s a piker.  A single one of Marley & Scrooge’s foreclosures would’ve taken out whole neighborhoods without the need to resort to a single anti-personnel weapon.
 
And messed up?  Let me count the ways.  His mom died giving him birth.  His father hated him and sent him off to one of those dreadful British boarding schools for years.  He lost his beloved sister in circumstances painfully reminiscent of his mother’s death.  The ultimate in internal conflicts got between him and the love of his youth.
 
While we’re at it, let’s not forget the paranormal angle.  The story features four named ghosts and a host of lesser spirits wailing at the fringes.  Gotta count that toward his score on the dark side.
 
Most importantly, he is spectacularly redeemed by the end of the story.  In fact, his redemption is so spectacular, we feel compelled to repeat and embellish it year after year in readings, plays, movies, parodies and cartoons.  For some of us, it just isn’t Christmas until some form of Scrooge wakes up on December 25 and realizes everything is different, today and forever after.
 
Like Corrina, I think this possibility of redemptive change is the reason we love literature’s bad boys.  If Scrooge can find his way back to his humanity and love, so can we all.  We love him, because his transfiguration is the mirror of our hope. 
 
The same applies to Romance’s dark and delicious heroes.  When it comes to genre books, we may not seek out the exact same hero every time, but we certainly crave that rush of hope.
 
Which makes these heroes such a good topic for December’s blog.  Through them we hope, and through that hope we find a reason to brave the rolling year.  Not too shabby for characters with seemingly no redeeming social value.
 
Wishing you and yours the best of the season.  May your Hannukah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanza and New Year be filled with wonderful surprises and a thousand reasons for hope in 2013!
 
Happy holidays!
 
Jean Marie Ward
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