How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Love stories are an entire genre of tales, typically about love that starts, stops and starts again. Love is often also added to other stories, for example where an adventure story has a 'love interest' element.
Love may have sexual elements, but this is not necessarily so, for example in pure romantic love, the love of a friend or parental love.
The Loyal Friend is a person who loves us for who we are. They do not seek anything in return for their loyalty and will forgive us our weaknesses and walk beside us through thick and thin.
Loyal Friends, such as Sam in Lord of the Rings, reflect the friends that we would really like. Sadly, life is not like that and friendship generally works with a bit more give and take, and those who we thought loyal often only will be loyal to a certain level and sometimes will be remarkably disloyal. True friends are thus very rare and seeing them in stories reminds us of what we truly seek in friendship. Perhaps also it reminds us to be such a loyal friend to others.
Protective Parents will fight tooth and nail to save their children from harm, even sacrificing themselves. Mild mothers will become tearing lionesses and fathers will become towering heroes to protect their families.
We all wanted protective parents when we were young and maybe still do in some shape or form. Loving protection in stories thus makes us feel warm and good.
The Innocent Child is no threat to anyone and thus is first not to be feared in any way. When we see the Innocent Child being exploited in any way, it awakens in us instincts of the Protective Parent and we want to see the child rescued.
In stories we may thus either associate with the child as it awakens memories of innocence in us or with the rescuers who represent our protective instincts.
The Maiden is a common character in many stories, providing a love interest and more. She first represents innocence and naivety that has reached beyond childhood. A symbolic virgin, she is pure and can only be won by the pure of heart, and thus is a perfect match for the ideal hero.
She reminds us that youth can perpetuate and of the fragility of innocence. She may thus invoke a complex love that combines the protective love of a child with the passion of adolescent love.
The Princess may well have innocent Maiden characteristics, but her defining character is aristocracy and high class, where she may be haughty or kind. This may be symbolic, where a working-class girl is also a princess. This represents the unattainability of the Princess.
Where she is wooed by a Prince, it emphasizes the proper way of things. Where she is won by a commoner, we are reassured that we can reach above our starting position in life. Sometimes the two are combined, where the commoner finds he has unrealized royalty in his blood, and so justice is done and right found.
The Prince is often heir to the throne and so has a latent power that may show through with a certain arrogance. He takes his position with a natural assumption and is easy in command.
He shares the aristocratic position of the princess and may be her perfect suitor, perhaps riding from afar to save her from peril. He may also be the false hero, eventually losing to the hero who has a higher integrity.
The lover is a passionate creature who typically woos with great ardour and skill. The male lover wins with fine words and chivalrous acts. The female lover wins with beauty and dexterity.
Lovers often compete for the hand of another, for example where several men try to out-do one another to win the affections of a single woman. The winner is typically the one who shows the greatest love, which often means the greatest self-sacrifice.
The Beloved is the subject of the lover, and may be male or female. They are cherished in many ways and may well be put on a high pedestal of perfection. When they inevitably fall, it may be to great shock and anguish, though they may also then forgiven and pushed back to their exalted place.
Star-crossed lovers are those whose relationship and perhaps lives are doomed from an early stage. They are thus also tragic characters. This, by definition, assumes a truth in fate such that the future is pre-destined to happen and nothing can change its course.
Fated characters typically come from different social backgrounds and their tryst is often opposed either by general society or by one or more of the families involved. For example where a princess falls for a commoner or a businessman shacks up with a prostitute.
This description, based on astrological reading, was first used by William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.
Soulmates are perfectly-matched Lovers who each holds the other as a Beloved. There is a common belief that we each have a soulmate somewhere and this is perpetuated in this romantic theme in which soulmates may find, lose and re-find one another. Together, they are known as the syzygy, as described by the joining of anima and animus in Jung's Archetypes. In psychoanalysis, perfect joining harks back to the one-ness of the neonatal phase.
Those who are infatuated take the obsession of love to an extreme and can thus become a nuisance or a threat. Their infatuation also blinds them to other things and they may fall into traps and worse.
Perhaps we experienced teenage infatuation and can sympathize with the Infatuated person. We may be concerned that the Infatuated person may cross the line into the potentially horrific and murderous realm of stalking.
The Distant Admirer is a common theme in early adolescence, where the boy or girl in the playground admires another child from afar. This is also the place where celebrities are worshipped.
Distant Admirers effectively play it safe, loving without contact and never risking the pain of rejection or the anger of betrayal. Many of us admire others but do nothing beyond social flirting simply because we or they are already attached. Sometimes, however, this innocent chat can lead to more physical things and Admirers can become Lovers.
'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' is a pithy saying that characterizes a common form of the Betrayed Woman, who may seek terrible revenge on her straying partner, from public humiliation to financial or physical pain.
Retribution by proxy happens when the woman is too weak or unwilling and villain of the piece is punished by fate or some other person.
Perhaps we have been the Betrayed Woman or perhaps experienced them (or maybe even imagined them). Many married men have been kept on the straight and narrow way simply by the fear of retribution should they ever give in to their procreative desires.
Lovers who have been rejected may act on the basis of betrayal, seeking retribution. They may also go through a period of mourning for their lost lover.
Their high emotional level may make them unstable and can add an unpredictable and hence tension-creating element to a story.
Many of us have been rejected and sympathize with such characters, and perhaps what they do as a response.