“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.” – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The very word brings jitters to hearts, young and old, all over the world.
It’s the one feeling that is most associated to the depth of emotions and makes one feel alive.
However, off late, it is being overdone.
Forms of media over the world are harping on the issues of love and love lost.
That brings me to our question. Does romance really sell?
I believe that, yes, it does, more than anything else in the world.
But to analyse it and take it a bit further, it is not exactly the romance that sells. It is the thoughts of insecure and lonely people all over the world that is selling it.
That covers 99.99% of the population.
It doesn’t matter if a person is in a relationship or is single. Everyone is bound to feel alone at some point in their lives or the other.
It’s almost natural.
Our human minds have been designed to look at those in a better place than we are and to feel inadequate. That deep hole in our hearts telling us to feed ourselves with jealousy and vulnerability is being filled up by media propagating romance.
Taking an example, I will have to say modern age romance is being defined by the hit saga, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. At the beginning, the craze, for me, was not understood. Being one of the practical types who doesn’t believe in all the mush and goo of love, I could not comprehend the unending drooling by my friends and colleagues for the character called ‘Edward Cullen’.
When once, if someone was asked what they expected their future husbands to be like, the answers ranged from superlative qualities like sophistication, kindness and honesty, now, all I began hearing was, ‘I want him to be like Edward Cullen’.
Upon reading the books, besides discovering that Stephanie Meyer is indeed a very talented writer, I also found out that this ‘Cullen’ that everyone was going gaga for was actually a non-human, 100+ year old, blood sucker. Having intelligently filled the character with sex appeal and selflessness, Meyer managed to capture the audience.
This is just one example. We’ve grown up either reading or hearing about Romeo and Juliet.
I personally do not understand why two people committing suicide for love should become such a rage. But then, it did. While I saw how impractical and illogical the solution Romeo and Juliet had taken, was, the others had fallen in love with the intensity of the characters’ feelings for one another.
“We are all fools in love” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen is one of the most renowned authors that the world has seen off late. With Pride & Prejudice, Emma and Sense & Sensibility acting like feathers in her cap, she has conquered the world of romance with her sentimental style of writing and emotional words of expression.
This list just goes on.
Another classic example on the lines of a little erotic writing would be the ‘Mills & Boons’ novels. Typically, the books start off with undeniable sexual tension between the main protagonists. It then drags on to their quarrels, their differences setting them apart and then ends with them passionately getting together. Throw in a few pages of detailed love-making and an accidental pregnancy and you have officially become a Mills & Boons writer!
Besides novels, another popular form of writing is poetry.
Probably the most famous first generation poets of all time were William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge and William Blake.
In India, while the genre has picked up rapidly over the last few years, there still needs to be more open-mindedness regarding the entire topic of romance. However, Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh top the charts in the category of new day romantic writers in India.
For decades, we have been planting unrealistic hopes of romance into our children’s minds by reading ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ as a bed time story or by letting them read Cinderella, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, and so on.
However, there are authors who swear off romance but still are quite popular despite the lack of sweet mushiness in their books. To name a few, Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie and John Grisham come to mind. But there are quite a lot of folks who would pick up ‘Gone with the Wind’ or ‘P.S. I love you’ over these.
The logic behind this attraction is simple.
We long for things that we can’t have.
Movies and books fulfil these insatiable longings.
Hence, we crave them.
“I wish I knew how to quit you.” – Brokeback Mountain by Annie Poulx
We know that no one will sweep us off our feet or wait under our balconies for us, but for the little while that we are engrossed in our pages of realistic fantasies, we are happy.
That little bubble of hope remains in our hearts as we try desperately to fulfil ourselves with the mundane monotonousness of our boring lives.
In a way, even for us critics, romance does sell. Because, in the end, whether we’re reading these books with dreamy minds or to poke fun at the soppiness, we’re reading them.
Probably the one productive thing that is coming out of our craze for romance is that in the process of achieving self-satisfaction, we’re encouraging more people to write.
In conclusion, if I was being tortured by my stepmother and was fed up with my life, then Prince Charming wouldn’t come to rescue me. I’d most probably be forced into having an arranged marriage and then my husband would replace my stepmother and the torture would continue. So, let’s leave the imagination to the books, shall we?