Monday, February 16, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Professor

The Professor

I just watched a movie titled Murder 101 where Pierce Brosnan played a college professor who gets set up for murder. He’s a little absent minded. A little arrogant. A little driven. Very self-absorbed. And teaches a writing class that focuses on plotting and writing suspense novels. And I have to say even knowing all that, had he been a teacher at my college, I’d have never missed a class.

But he wouldn’t have been my choice for either a boyfriend or a husband. And true to the storyline he had an ex-wife who refused to depend on him or take his promises seriously. He’d left her hanging too many times.

When he’s set up for murder, he has to use his superior intellect to think his way free of the trap into which he’s fallen and learns there may be things that are more important than his own little world inside of academia. I’m not going to spoil the movie for anyone, but the stakes are raised higher and higher for our hero and his intellect serves him well.

The Professor doesn’t deal well with change. Jeff Goldblum’s character, David Levinson, in Independence Day is content to use his brilliant talents in small ways in the public sector and has been left behind by his wife who’s followed her own path and kept her focus on a bigger picture.

But David has given his heart and though they’ve been apart for some time, he still wears his wedding band and still loves his wife passionately. He doesn’t waver in that love, no matter how bad things get and he risks everything to save her. So the moral is, the Professor may be absent minded, analytical, and insular, but once he’s let that special person inside his world, he doesn’t stop loving easily.

The Professor is an expert. He feels he was born to do the one thing at which he excels. He’s an acknowledged authority in his area. He has no hidden agendas. Doesn’t try and take on any disguises or try to be anything or anyone else than who he is. He doesn’t understand deceptions, hypocrisy or lies and is confused when they’re used against him. In January Man, Kevin Kline, plays ex-cop Nick Starkey. He’s been forced out of the police department under the suspicion of accepting bribes. Nick becomes a fireman, but his brother, the chief of police, and the mayor look him up when a particular nasty serial killer leaves a trail of dead bodies throughout the city.

Nick has communication problems with the opposite sex, is quirky, and stays inside his head a great deal of the time. But he’s brilliant at solving puzzles. And he doesn’t stop until he gets his man. Even when no one else believes in him, he knows he’s right.

And the ultimate Professor is compulsively organized and obsessive in his need to think things through logically. He doesn’t trust intuitive thinking. Logic and intellect are what counts. He’ll spend hours seeking a solution and be totally oblivious of the woman standing next to him, eager for his attention. Until she grabs him by his pointy ears and kisses his socks off.

The sexy attractiveness of the Professor Archetype lies in his intellect, and his single mindedness. When the chips are down he’ll go the extra mile to find a solution. And he’ll think outside the box to discover it.

Put him in a situation where he finally discovers his lady love, he’ll take care of her with the same single minded devotion as he does to saving the world, the planet, or just the day.

Tell me about the Professor Archetypes you’ve discovered in books and movies you’ve read or watched. I’m eager to hear about them. I’d really like to discover some books where this character is explored. If you have any suggestions let me know.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor


Devon Matthews said...

Fantastic post, Teresa! I like the way you used fictional characters to illustrate the different facets of this archetype.

I love this hero type. Not in my own writing will you find a professor hero, but they make for some of the most interesting heroes in movies and on tv. To me, their appeal stems from their intelligence. Nothing sexier than an intelligent man. :o) And they are so inwardly focused, they seem unreachable. It's hard not to fall in love with a man who's completely unaware of his own appeal.

Charlene said...

Hi Teresa,

I agree with Devon. Intelligence is very sex. I really enjoyed how you described each hero.

Amy Durham said...

I also enjoy the professor-type! The first hero that came to mind was from Nora Roberts' "Thee Sisters" trilogy. Seems like his name was MacAllister Booke, and of course, he was paired with the feistiest girl in the trilogy! The intellectual side of a man is very sexy, and I've always kind of been a sucker for a guy who gets lost in a book or in his research.

Charlene said...

Another sexy professor would be Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones!

Teresa Reasor said...

Devon, Charlene and Amy:
Thanks so much for coming by and joining me. And yes the professor can be really sexy. I'm thinking all the main characters on CSI especially Grissom on CSI, Gary Sinese on CSI New York. And I saw Harry Connick, Jr. on a Lifetime movie recently where he played a doctor responsible for a brest cancer chemo drug--it was based on a true story. He was definitely driven and definitely sexy.
There's a new show called Eleventh Hour on now and the main character is a Professor, very analytical, very intelligent, and very sexy.
Why is it I can think of all of the sexy ones on TV and can't remember a one in a book.
If you think of any in books, let me know, I'd like to read them.

Teresa Reasor said...

And please forgive the punctuation mistakes in my messages and it's breast not brest. Typing too quickly.

Amy Durham said...

I love "The Eleventh Hour"! Dr. Jacob Hood is a sexy smarty pants!

Teresa Reasor said...

Hey Amy:
Yes, he is. I'm loving your blogs. You've found your writing nitch. I think you should do a column in the local paper, like Dear Amy or something. I think you'd be great at it.
Teresa R.

Amy Durham said...

Awww... thanks for the compliment on my blog, Teresa. I'm enjoying it... when I get to it. It's a nice creative outlet, that requires minimal time, and somewhat satisfies the "itch" I have to write. Doesn't quite equate with writing for the purpose of storytelling, but putting words together makes me happy. And the blog comments are nice too... immediate gratification and all that! I'm glad you enjoy them. I always enjoy yours!


jj Keller said...

Dara Joy writes about sexy professors. She does an excellent job. Good blog, Teresa.

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks JJ. And thanks for coming by.
I'll have to go on line and check out some of her books.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Teresa,

I have never read about the professor type in the different master character books, but after reading your post, I do believe I married the professor character, though he does not have a PhD.
What's funny is that I always liked Spock the best----and then Mr. Data on Star Trek--The Next Generation. I even had a very much loved cat named Mr. Data.


Anonymous said...

I'm writing this in a hurry but I'm determined to get it done today since it took me from Monday 'til Thursday to read the Professor Archetype post. It's been busy 'round here.
I don't really have an example of a professor archetype from a book to tell about. But I wanted to compliment you on choosing a subject that could be of special interest to other authors.

Janice Ellen Wright said...

I'm married to a professor-type. His social life isn't easy, because he doesn't fit in. but he is a wonderful guy.

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