Happy Tuesday again everyone! I hope you are all doing well despite these challenging and uncertain times. I hope and pray that you are all health, in body, mind, and spirit. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesdays was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.
This week’s topic: Top 5 Tropes I Dislike Done Well
While I am no fan of literary tropes, it is undeniable that it is ubiquitous in literature. Nearly everything about literature is anchored on a trope, from city girl meets country boy to the love at first sight to the always popular love triangles, ala Twilight Saga. We also have the rags-to-riches, the hero, and the quest tropes. Because of some of these tropes, some stories have become predictable, hence, less enjoyable. However, that is not always the case as there are some tropes that were properly executed. For this Top 5 Tuesday, I am listing five tropes I dislike but were done well. I you enjoy this list.
I won’t say I dislike quests. Done well, they can be pretty enthralling, especially if the writer knows how to play with suspense, atmosphere, and adventure. This trope is quite popular in fantasy and magical fiction, no surprise there. So far, most magical fiction I have read involves at least one quest. The only dampener for quests is that they almost always end in the same manner. This predictability can weight down on the story.
If there is one book with a quest trope that really captured my interest, it would be J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is also a no-brainer. Both these books have all the elements that make quest tropes enthralling – villains, adventures, atmosphere, and well, grand worldbuilding. It does incorporate several tropes as well, such as good vs evil (hero vs dark lord), and different races and species (elves, dwarves, and, of course, hobbits). Nevertheless, it is still the quest that makes these books exciting. The vastness of the vocabulary can also be very exciting.
Save The World
Saving the world is another literary trope that has become common-place. It is popular across all medium, from films, to television series, to, of course, literature. At the nucleus of the story is always a hero (or a group of them), often from humble beginnings, who reached enlightenment, hence, he/she/they makes/make a crusade to save the world from all forms of wickedness. Like quests, these pseudo super hero stories have the tendency to be predictable. Good always wins over the bad right? Not all the time, but definitely most of the time.
However, saving the world is not always literal. It can come in different forms and Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird offers a unique way of showing how an individual can make a difference that will reverberate to different corners of the world. By now, most of us are familiar with this Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, which was also adapted into a film. Atticus Finch’s commitment to justice is the moral heart of the story, although it is often marketed as a coming-of-age story, that of his daughter, Scout Finch. There are other several great save the world stories but this definitely is one of those at the top of the list.
Love triangles. Who haven’t encountered a book or a story that involves love triangles? Sure, the tension (sometimes sexual) make the story spicier, more interesting. Sure, a straightforward story between a man and woman can be devoid of excitement (sometimes), but love triangles are no better either for they have the tendency to be overdone. Yes, I am no fan of love triangles, having encountered it one too many times.
Nevertheless, there are some love triangles that are really well-done. One love triangle that I can recall, one that has made a deep impression on me, is the love triangle between Edgar Linton, Heathcliff, and Catherine Earnshaw. Their tumultuous story was captured by Emily Brontë in her timeless work, Wuthering Heights. By now a established classic of literature, Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time favorite books and, interestingly, Heathcliff is one of my all-time favorite characters. He has a complex psychological profile that was engrossing. This made me root for him in his proverbial romantic tug-of-war with Edgar Linton. The story, however, was a sad one.
I don’t know why but it does seem like I have a beef with love stories (HAHA). Apart from love triangles, I also am not impressed with stories about love at first sight. Another popular romance story trope I am not really into is the enemies-to-lovers dynamic. Like love triangles, it is a trope that many will tune into because of the frictions, and the conflicts. Done well, they can be engrossing, interesting.
In the enemies-to-lovers dynamic, the story of Rhett Butler and headstrong Scarlett O’Hara is one that really captured my interest, from the start until the end. Their push and pull story was thoroughly captured by Margaret Mitchell in her literary masterpiece, Gone With the Wind. The second Pulitzer Prize-winning book in the list, Gone With the Wind enthralled with its details of the Civil War (I love historical fiction). Juxtaposed on the Civil War is the interesting, and often stormy, love and hate relationship between Rhett and Scarlett.
The Ugly Duckling
One of the most popular tropes in literature is the ugly duckling. The trope originated from popular Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same title. Since then, it has been retold and altered to fit into one’s story many times. Because of its ubiquity, this trope has become unoriginal and yet, it is still pretty common place in contemporary literature, especially in romance and young adult fictions.
However, if there is one book involving an ugly duckling that has captured my interest, it would be Charlotte Brontë’s (yes, Emily’s sister) Jane Eyre. I have read the story about six years ago, if my memory serves me right. I can still recall the eponymous Jane’s story, of the picture of her “plainness”. Following the deaths of her parents, and her maternal uncle, she was raised by Sarah Reed, her uncle’s wife. Sarah’s dislike for Jane was palpable that she even sent her to a charity school for the poor and orphaned. In the end, however, the universe conspired in Jane’s favor and she became the second wife of Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall.