/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
My favorite modern heroine has to be Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Unlike a lot of female characters, she’s described as smart, and actually is. One thing I realized reading the Fifty Shades books, was to never describe any character, male or female, as intelligent, and then proceed to display for 500+ pages exactly how they’re not. If your character is a good looking woman with an average IQ, that is acceptable, instead of describing her as average looking with a high intelligence, when she bumbles and annoys not only the readers, but should irritate the other characters. Ana is described as intelligent, by several other characters, but her actions don’t bear this out. If anything, they are the deeds and thought processes of a simpleton. And a good-looking simpleton is more entertaining than a plain one. Or more disturbingly, how low is the bar for intelligence in women? If Anastasia Steele is “intelligent,” than I’m Gandalf. Sorry, but she needs someone to follow her around to make sure she doesn’t walk out in front of a bus. Bella, from Twilight, is as dumb as a bag of rocks. One starts to wonder not only what Edward sees in her, but to start hoping he just gives in to his urge to kill her and thus rids us all of her clumsiness and stupidity. On the IQ scale, how far below Hermione Granger are Anastasia and Bella? Pretty far, aren’t they? They’re both as simple as Disney’s Snow White; a classic Victim character, twirling around waiting for their princes, but without the singing and forest animals. Both of them could be bamboozled by Ronald Weasley, faster than Snow White was tricked by the Wicked Queen. Come to think of it, they have much worse personalities than Snow White, who cheerfully cooked and cleaned because it needed to be done, made it a point to help the elderly, and wasn’t ever found complaining about things. It’s also interesting how in most books and movies, young women are the ones described as intelligent when they’re not, but the older women, who have at least some life experience, are described as evil, when what they really are is smart, wealthy, and unmarried. When you think about it, the Wicked Witch of the West is actually quite justified in her anger. Glinda stole her sister's shoes and wouldn't give them back. I'd be mad, too! I like the Wizard of Oz quite a lot, Dorothy is a Classical Heroine, on a quest, helping people and making friends, without a prince in sight. She's not stupid, either, its just that things work rarely strangely in Oz. How many truly smart young women characters are there, and how often do you see older women portrayed in a positive light? In most stories for children and teens, the old woman is evil, or a witch. Lots, and lots of evil witches. Of intelligent, older women we have a very few, such as Professor Minerva McGarnagle, in Harry Potter, who is very smart, but who is a good witch, not a bad one.
Ana’s inner life is also remarkably vapid, without a trace of common sense. She has no ability to understand her own thought processes; calling ordinary temptation her “Inner goddess,” who jumps around thrilling at the thought of being with Christian Grey. More like her inner idiot, because this mental character, far from giving good advice, simply urges her to run away with the emotions of the moment. What she calls her subconscious, and is described as being some sort of angry old schoolmarm, she ignores and puts down at every opportunity, but is in fact the only inklings of intelligence and common sense that ever go through her head. Other than that, it’s just obsessing about a boyfriend, and lustful thoughts along with self-doubts, which are quite different in nature from real critical thinking. And why is it that she never analyzes Christian's wealth, and where it comes from, or even asks him how he did it? She's quite rude, as well, seemingly having no capacity to politely accept a gift and then drop the subject. Why does she send him such nasty, snarky emails, either? That is not the way to impress anyone.
But Bella and Ana are “in love.” They begin obsessing about their chosen Byronic heroes from the moment they meet them, and confuse infatuation with caring and affection, which real love is based upon. Crushes happen like that, not long term relationships. They also have laundry lists of ways in which he must change in order to be with her, which anyone familiar with real life knows doesn’t work. So in a way, these heroines are Byronic, as well, rather than classical. They ruminate and reflect upon their own desires, pasts, and unhappiness, instead of having some sort of quest. While Dorothy regrets running away and learns something from that experience, and Hermione Grainger is Harry Potter's most intelligent and helpful friend, there is no learning or real character development in Ana or Bella. Some might argue that Fifty Shades isn't written for the same audience as Harry Potter, but I would argue differently. True, little boys might not find anything interesting about Fifty Shades, but knowing little boys, they just might! But young women are reading both, and Twilight was written for that same audience. As Stephen King put it, "Harry Potter is about doing what's right, even in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." And that is one of the main differences between the Classical and Modern Heroines, who are very similar, and the Byronic Heroine. Byronic heroes and heroines just can't seem to get over themselves. In many ways, they resemble the Classical Victim more than the Classical Hero and Heroine. But what worries me is that Edward Cullen and Christian Grey aren't too bright or idiots, but no one felt the need to declare them "intelligent," either. We are never told that Dorothy is "intelligent," she simply stops doing stupid things after the first mistakes. Was it a foregone conclusion, where unless told, we would assume the heroines had the IQ of Snow White? They are often more Boronic than Byronic, boronic being a combination of boring and moronic; a boring moron. That shoe definitely fits Bella Swan, I must say. She can call it a gift from her fairy godmother, because for some reason it helps her win her prince.