Monday, August 20, 2012

Are Eve and Roarke archetypes?


  1. A very typical example of a certain person or thing.
  2. An original that has been imitated.

Wikipedia has an extra definition:  An epitome— a personality type exemplified, especially the "greatest" such example.

I've been listening to some of the In Death books on audio lately and then I found I just had to skim the first 3 books for the Eve and Roarke bits (plus a bit of Portrait in Death too) because I just enjoy them so much.  I started to wonder if because I enjoy them so much I am seeing them everywhere lately - or, are Eve and Roarke archetypes?

 Eve Dallas:

*  kick ass cop
*  devoted to justice and the rule of law
*  tortured childhood
*  tough but has a streak of vulnerability associated with said tortured childhood
*  has very few close relationships


*  criminal past, now (mostly) legitimate
*  super rich at a very young age
*  has his own idea of justice and the value of the law
*  tortured childhood
*  is totally and completely devoted to Eve

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this post is intended in any way to insult any author or suggest anything improper -  as much as there may be similarities, there are plenty of differences and I do not wish to suggest in anyway that the books I discuss below are anything less than original works - all of which I very much enjoyed.  This post only works if I talk about the similarities I see - even if I stretch the analogies occasionally - I'm not here to point out the differences but they're absolutely there.  For me, being like Eve and Roarke is a compliment.

I read Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke recently.  I was having a bit of trouble getting into it but then suddenly it occurred to me that Mina and Rhys were a bit like Eve and Roarke.  I felt like I all of a sudden had a handle on the characters and found myself sliding happily into enjoyment.  Mina is a very accomplished murder cop, like Eve and Rhys is basically a pirate  who fell into a dukedom.  He's now super rich and mostly legitimate but he has little regard for the law,  unlike Mina.  (I could totally see Roarke as a pirate - the romantic kind, not the real kind-  if he'd been born earlier).  Both Mina and Rhys had tortured childhoods (albeit for different reasons than Eve and Roarke) and both bear the scars.  Also like Roarke, Rhys is devoted to Mina - so much so that he plans to single-handedly change the hearts and minds of everyone in England (possibly the world) so that Mina will no longer be villified or discriminated against - so she can be happy and they can be together.

In Sylvia Day's Bared To You, Gideon cross is at least mildly stalkerish - at one point he recreates Eva's apartment bedroom in his house so that she can be comfortable there.  In Glory in Death, Roarke recreates Eve's apartment in his own house so that Eve can be comfortable and have her own space.  Because I "know" Roarke, I had no difficulty seeing Gideon's actions in doing this for Eva as a positive thing rather than super creepy.  And, because I know Roarke, I had little difficulty in accepting Gideon as being the young billionaire (which really is fairly improbable when you think about it - on both cases).

I'm listening to Gunmetal Magic (review to come) at the moment.  It made me think of Kate and Curran.   Like Eve and Roarke they both have family trauma in their pasts (although again, for different reasons).  Like the other man with only one name (yes, I know that Curran has a last name - Lennart - but no-one uses it), Curran's view of the law (in terms of human law anyway) is less than strict.  He's fairly young and wealthy, as Beast Lord, he has control over and/or care of significant business and real estate interests and thousands of people.  He's so devoted to Kate that he's prepared to walk away from it all to keep her safe.  Curran even has a "Summerset"  in Mahon.  Kate is a private investigator (and before that she was a Knight of the Order of Merciful Aid which was a cop for poor people) and like Eve, values order.  At the start of the series, Kate has virtually no-one she is close to.  But as the series progresses she develops close friendships with Andrea (her "Peabody"?) and Derek and familial ties with Julie and Ascanio (although the latter is a work in progress).  Eve Dallas had Mavis and Feeney in Naked in Death but 30 books later, she has Dr. Mira, Louise and Charles, Peabody and McNab, Nadine Furst - and Roarke of course.  Kate was basically alone as a child - so was Eve. And Kate definitely kicks ass.

In "importing" the characteristics of Eve and Roarke to other characters I also import my love for them - it helped me to connect and find comfort in an unfamiliar setting (as in The Iron Duke).  It helped me see Gideon as more noble than perhaps others who don't see any Roarke in him would do.  Perhaps it even makes me see more romance in the Kate/Curran dynamic than only appears on the page.

So, my question was: are Eve and Roarke archetypes? It occurs there are three possible answers to that question:

a)  Yes
b)  Yes but only for me
c)   No - late night pizza is dangerous to my synapses

What do you think?


Liz Mc2 said...

I think this post is fascinating! Two things strike me: the Roarke archetype predates Roarke (I think there are a lot of classic Harlequin Presents heroes with at least most elements you've listed, and Old Skool historicals have them too) but he is a particularly appealing version for so many readers, maybe because he feels more modern--I have only read first In Death, but he doesn't have the misogyny of so many Old Skool heroes, it seemed to me.

Second, when you list Eve's qualities in bullets like that, well, she ALSO has qualities of a romance HERO, not a traditional heroine. I wonder if that's what makes them so archetypal as a *couple*. They seem complementary, but not in a traditional gender-binary way (soft/hard, weak/strong). To me, that's so much more appealing and more true to real-life happy relationships than alpha-doormat.

Kaetrin said...

Thank you Liz :)

I'm sure there were other "Roarke's" before this one - or at least elements of him but he's the one that sticks most in my head - perhaps he's "my first". And yes, you're right, he's in no way a misogynist.

I wanted to list the dot points of the characters to illustrate what I was regarding as archetypical - analogies only work so far of course - and others will no doubt see these characters differently from myself.

I've never really thought it about it but I think you're right about Eve having "hero" characterisitics as well. She is definitely alpha and I enjoy watching the ongoing tussle (sometimes loving, sometimes angry) between Eve and Roarke - for all of Roarke's power, much of the time he is subservient to Eve - while that's sexy to me I also like how Robb makes it so that Roarke is nevertheless no-one's bitch.

As for the archetype stuff, well I really have found it's a useful way for me to "hook into" characters sometimes - although I guess that means I may import some things which don't belong - sometimes this might mean I enjoy a book more than perhaps I should! (though not the ones I mentioned in the post I don't think).

Chris said...

*blink blink* I can see it... And you made linkity! :)

Kaetrin said...

@ Chris ding ding! :)

Chris said...

How did you know I totally make that sound in my head when I find something for linkity?! O.O