Monday, April 20, 2009

Heroine Archetype: The Librarian

This archetype’s title comes fairly close to summing up her personality. While you won't always find this character sorting through tomes in some musty old storage room, she will exhibit many of the same characteristics you might expect to find in an actual librarian.

The librarian is a proper lady, living her life by a strict code of ethics, possibly embedded in her by a set of quiet, respectable parents. She is typically career oriented, with brains to spare. Her behavior is beyond reproach, and from the outside looking in, it seems she wouldn't have it any other way.

However, beneath the cashmere sweaters and sensible pumps, lurks an urge to break free of her day to day doldrums. Given the opportunity, and just the right fellow, the librarian just might be tempted to peel away her inhibitions (and her clothing) to display the simmering passion she's always managed to keep so well hidden.

Such was the case when sweet-tempered, bookish Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan met ex-soldier, turned adventurer, Rick O’Connell in Hollywood’s most recent adaptation of the classic film, The Mummy. Little Evie, who’s spent more time deciphering ancient hieroglyphics than experimenting in the dating pool, is forced to deal with more than just the resurrection of a thirty-six hundred year old corpse who’s on a mission to kill everything in sight. She must also come to terms with the unfamiliar feelings her bad-boy guide stirs in her. What girl wouldn’t want to be in her shoes? Well…minus the whole plague, mummy, end of the world thing.

Another great example is one of America’s original sweethearts – good girl gone pink, Sandy Olsson from Grease. While she is one of our all-time favorite movie characters, watch her long enough and you’ll get cavities from sugar exposure. This adorable Aussie lost her heart, and her poodle skirt, to a greaser with a heart of gold named Danny Zuko. In the end, a bad girl makeover was just what the doctor ordered, and sent Zuko a crystal clear message that “You’re the one that I want…woo-hoo-hoo.”

Speaking of classics – when we’re discussing the librarian, we can’t forget about Sgt. Sarah Brown, the prudish missionary from Guys and Dolls. Marlon Brando’s gambling character, Sky Masterson, sets out to entice the upstanding Miss Brown into accompanying him on a trip to Havana in this amusing musical. He succeeds, of course, and cool Sister Sarah is never the same. The dancing scene at the bar in Havana is one of the funniest scenes ever…but that’s another story.

The last heroine I’ll mention is probably my favorite. Perfectly prioritized Anne Osborne from The Big Easy, portrayed so eloquently by actress Ellen Barkin. Anyone who remembers this movie can tell you, you could almost feel the heat these two generated on the Bayou when this uptight attorney finally decided to let down her hair. I ask you – who could blame her? I don’t know too many women who could walk away from a smooth talking Cajun like Remy McSwain. Do you, cher?

Who are some of your favorite librarians? And what heroes have been so irresistible they’ve made you want to let down your own hair for a day?

Thanks for reading...
Tracy Preston


Julie Robinson said...

I love Olivia Newton John in Grease. My DH says I look like the character of 'little Evie' when she's up on her ladder filing books. (in order to spend time with me when we met, he had to come to the library to meet me). The librarian archetype, to me, is the most common one used in romance novels. But then, that may just be the type I like to read!

As for writing about this type of heroine, I think that we like to write our heroine in this way because women, in general, tend to live by standards and societal constraints and many long to let the Venus within her break free. I mean, Aren't there even self-help books on this?

My 2cents,

Julie Robinson said...

I shall have to see The Big Easy. Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino in Sea of Love steamed up the screen there, though I don't think she was a librarian archetype.

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Thanks for commenting Julie! And you're so right, in my opinion, about women longing to burst free from the mold. What fun it would be to step outside ourselves and be as passionate as some of our heroines!!

And if you haven't seen The Big Easy, I highly recommend it. It's an 80's movie, so there are a few hokey things to contend with (You'll notice her running shorts are terrible!), but I definitely believe the story still stands up today. And the love scene (cause there's one in particular) -- whew...make sure you're drinking something with ice...yeah...lots of ice! :-}

I don't know about you, but to me, a young, smooth-talking Dennis Quaid is HOT!

Kathryn Albright said...

Going way back to my love of musicals, I always picture Shirley Jones from The Music Man--a true librarian very similar to Evie in The Mummy--just an entirely different plot. However, the bad boy still tempts her out of her safe zone. It's so true about breaking free of the mold--and so fun to see what happens when these gals do it.

Oh--and I quite agree with you Tracy--about Dennis Quaid!

Julie Robinson said...

Ooh, sounds good, Tracy. And I certainly won't mind the 80's style. My DH says I still look like I"m in the 1980's, and he's not talking about looking young! And since he likes Dennis Quaid, he just may watch it with me, though it looks like a chick flick. Julie

Vicki said...

While not truly a librarian (secretary has its own archetype I think) the secretary in Bye Bye Birdie is similar. The movie is OK but the high school productions I have seen of that show really brought it home.

And, of course, my own personal librarian: 6'4" of restrained interest in categorizing life until.... I still remember him very fondly.

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Kathryn -- I kept hearing over and over in my head, "Marian...Madame Librarian..." the whole time -- lol. Thanks so much for commenting.

Julie -- I don't know if I'd classify it as a chick flick. Remy's a homicide detective investigating a series of gang murders, and she's there to check into the possibility of dirty cops accepting kickbacks. There's a signifacant amount of romance, but there's so much other stuff I don't think your DH will be too bored. :)

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Vicki -- Haven't seen Bye Bye Birdie in years! That was a true high school musical, wasn't it? Great comment, thanks for dropping by.

Teresa Reasor said...

I love The Big Easy! It's one of my favorite movies. I'm so glad you used it in your blog.
Have you ever seen Teacher's Pet with Doris Day and Clark Gable? She's the Librarian for sure. Doris played a lot of Girls Next Door and Librarians in her movies. And Clark of course back then was the quinticential Hunk.
I guess you can tell I like ooooold Movies.
Great Blog, I really enjoyed it.
Teresa R.

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Teresa -- I love Doris Day. I haven't seen that particular movie, but I'll make sure I see it now. I love the Glass Bottom Boat -- it's a hoot. And what's the name of that one where her husband thinks she's dead and gets engaged or remarried (can't remember which) and he's juggling the two women in different hotel rooms? That one was great too.

My mom was a huge Doris Day fan, so I've kinda been raised to love her. And I also LOVE old movies. I recently watched Arsenic and Old Lace for the first time. I never thought I'd be laughing out loud at a movie that old, but I was! :) The animation in Cary Grant's face during some of those scenes was priceless.

Julie Robinson said...

Thanks for clarifying Tracy. We love action movies---romantic suspense. Julie

Sloan Seymour said...

Great post! Oh, how i love these archetypes. Every movie I watch has my head spinning with what archetype is best for the character!


Mary Ricksen said...

There is nothing quite as stirring as seeing, (or reading), as that librarian breaks out of the mold and becomes all that she can or wants to be. Haven't we all felt that way at one time in our lives?!

Lisa Logan said...

I admit I dug THE MUMMY. I liked Rachel Weisz' librarian performance (and was disappointed when they changed actresses in the 3rd installment). Along that vein I also liked NATIONAL TREASURE, where a national archives curator gets caught up with a dashing treasure hunter on a mission (Nick Cage). Good, solid fun!


Anonymous said...

love big easy
agains t all odds

bridget jones love colin

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