The following is a companion piece to Witches: The Classic Archetype of Feminine Power, which was written for the Happy Endings Blog Hop last month. I hope you enjoy Selene’s analyses of these paranormal character archetypes as much as I do!
The Classic Archetype of the Intellectual Bad Boys
By Selene Grace Silver
Fictional bad boy heroes come in lots of archetypal flavors: brooding poet-musicians, violent warrior-berserkers, sensual Don Juans, opportunistic pirates, ruthless mercenaries, blood-sucking vampires, and fickle, thrill-seeking bronco riders. But for the romance reader attracted to a more cerebral hero, the warlock may be the most alluring bad boy of them all. Meld arrogance, ambition, and power to a superior intellect (and a wee bit of wickedness), and a brainy girl is sure to swoon.
The attractions of a warlock hero are many. First and foremost, he is difficult to fool or outwit. His impressive mental capabilities give him supremacy over most situations. Trained to be an eternal scholar of the world, he persistently masters the knowledge and skills needed to deal with both dangerous antagonists and wily, reluctant heroines. He naturally rises to a challenge and takes pride dominating and succeeding. No other hero has the ability to observe, organize, plan, and orchestrate as well as the intellectually-bent, educated hero. Resourceful, he can research necessary information and required tools, design and engineer everything from machines to schemes, and efficiently, effectively eliminate hurdles in his path to success. If a heroine must take on a stalking murderer or financial ruin or a giant ogre, or any other desperate situation, who better to help her than the smartest man in the story?
Last year, I only survived the termination of Stargate Universe and the loss of my weekly dose of wonderfully warlockish scientist-engineer Dr. Nicholas Rush because Robert Carlyle was resurrected on television as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, a real warlock, in Once Upon a Time. It’s true that Rumplestiltskin appears as a shriveled fairy-tale warlock (with a weird glittery face), but as this-world Mr. Gold, Carlyle is a lean, hard man with a keen intelligence and a satisfyingly bitter sense of humor. When true danger lurks, the residents of Storybrook inevitably turn to Gold for help.
And he’s fallen in love with a girl-next-door type who is sweet, loyal, self-effacing, and willing to be corrupted, but much more likely to rein in his bad boy tendencies. She’s like a younger, prettier version of me! Really. That fact raises another aspect of an intelligent bad boy. He recognizes and appreciates a woman who might not have a perfect exterior but whose interior is perfectly desirable. He’s attracted to a woman’s mind that matches, complements his own weighty cerebrum, and is capable of bettering his on occasion.
Traces of the medieval warlock imbue the Victorian alchemist and magician, the timeless visionary, and the modern inventor. The contemporary incarnation of the warlock is the scientist-engineer, who studies and calculates how to manipulate the natural world to his advantage. His passion and interest in nature’s potential drive his imagination and ambitions. Particularly in the West, he is consumed with a desire to master and control—to discover and take what he wants for his own needs and purposes. Often introverted, isolated (by choice) from socially-centered activities, sometimes a selfish, emotionally-distant loner, the bad boy warlock wanders the world seeking something—or someone—to make sense of life, of his raison d’être. What girl wouldn’t want to be his ultimate answer?
I’ve personally never been able to resist a super smart man. They’re easy to fall in lust with (as I did with SU’s Dr. Rush) because most of modern life is experienced through the mind and the imagination, rather than on some warring battlefield. Frankly, everyday life is much easier to navigate if one’s prospective partner is able to fix broken-down equipment like the clothes dryer, wire and hang oversized ceiling light fixtures to code (that their wives tote home from the local DIY store), manage the family financial investments for a comfortable retirement later, program the new media equipment and computer network, and bring home impressively large professional paychecks. Best of all, peace reigns in a house where arguments end quickly because logic prevails over emotion, except for that one week of the month when he’s wise enough to let me win debates sans reason—another aspect of his being smart. He knows which battles to pick when.
In contemporary romance fiction, where heroes are often portrayed as six-foot-tall fighting machines, with multi-packed abs, truck-wide shoulders and the ability to eagle-eye sniper kill an enemy from a mile away after swimming hours in the pitch-black night, it might seem a stretch to propose that a 5’9” leanly-sculpted actor with a spare frame like Carlyle’s is damned sexy. Until one considers his characters’ vast intellects and the way they wield and whip their electrical dendrites and synapses across those immodestly large lobes to outsmart and outperform hunkier guys with more brawn than brain. It can be more tense and exciting than watching a wild West gun fight at noon.
We have to keep in mind something especially important as well: his over-sized imagination alone is bound to make midnight interludes in bed magically memorable.
*Selene Grace Silver’s debut paranormal series concerns a family of witches and warlocks. Watch for the upcoming release of her first novel, The Binding of Adara. The first chapter is available to readers at selenegracesilver.com.
About the Author
Selene Grace Silver is a woman writer who traces her appreciation for powerful and protective men to having been born and raised in the harsh winters of the upper Midwest where the only thing as hearty as a man’s physical strength is his woman’s spirit, intellect and home-cooking. Therefore, give her a stoic, bowlegged cowboy, a fierce Scottish warrior, or an ambitious, multinational CEO any day over the modern metro-sexual. These classic male archetypes make life more interesting (even a little challenging). If life hasn’t provide you with a real one, Selene’s fiction will deliver (and without the dirty socks on the floor to pick up after).
Selene’s contemporary releases include: