Love and Hawthorne – Kindred and Complementary

February 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s letters to Sophie, he suggests they are kindred spirits (but not like brother and sister.) On several occasions he also notes their differences and how much he appreciates them. I think the best romances capture this effect in its protagonists. They are kindred spirits, and must have something in common to bring them together, but they are also opposites in some ways, in order to be complementary personas as well. Often one of the pair is physically strong with a more dominating presence while the other, despite being more submissive, has more spiritual strength and a nurturing nature. Perhaps one half of the pair is very analytical and logical-minded, while the other is the creative half, more attuned to emotion – or one is serious and responsible while the other tends to be playful and light-hearted. A mix of characteristics can prove to be a boon to a relationship, allowing the couple to support each other’s weaknesses by means of their own strengths. These differences can also result in conflict from time to time, adding some interest to your tale. Resolving those conflicts, finding an area of compromise, can in turn bring those characters even closer together.

Here’s an excerpt from the next in my Masters and Renegades series to be published, Prisoners of Fate. The story brings together two characters who are very opposite in nature but who discover more than one area of common ground as events unfold. By the end of the story, once they have resolved any points of contention, they find themselves sharing a bond neither of them would have anticipated. Here’s one of their moments of conflict:

Anna and Ebon stood in front of the ornate doorway to the Inner Sanctum, large, dark and intimidating. By stepping part way through the doorway, they had been able to determine that there were five locks of varying complexity on the door, each one bearing a physical trap, and three magical traps set on the door in general. While the physical traps were not a threat to the golden man and his apprentice as long as they remained in contact, the magical traps, on the other hand, were a different situation.

“So much for scouting ahead,” Ebon said. “Sure, we can tell Urwick what to expect, what will keep us from moving forward. How’s that going to solve our problems?”

“You should give Urwick more credit than that. He’ll be able to figure something out. He always seems to have an answer for everything.”

Anna re-examined the door. The intricate carvings that adorned its surface had been etched with care and particular attention to detail.

“He never had an answer for me,” Ebon replied coolly.

Anna felt the rush of rage as it rose within him, a common occurrence. He was always so angry. It had been difficult enough to deal with Ebon before she had shared in his emotions. Now, as his anger travelled through her, her eyes flashing red and her heart racing, she wanted to shake him, to scream at him to let it go. She had become numb to her own rage many years ago. Having to share his feelings threatened to undo everything she had struggled to repress, to uncork years of frustration and despair. Terrified by the idea, she released him.

“No.” He seized her wrist, not allowing her to withdraw. “It’s about time you should be angry. You are always running from it, or trying to hide it. You need to feel it.”

“This isn’t my anger, it’s yours.”

“Then show me yours. Let me feel your rage. I know you must be angry about something.” His ire pushed at her like a forceful wind, and after multiple attempts of trying to evade him, she finally pushed back – hard.

“Is this what you want?!” she asked, her hostility bludgeoning him like a fist.

Anna was angry about many things, and the most recent of them involved Ebon. Those were the ones she allowed to surface. Anna re-experienced her rage at Ebon’s cruelty, the cruelty he had exhibited upon her realization that her attempts at rescuing him had turned her into something less tangible than he had been. She relived the moments of fury when he had continuously pushed her away, hateful and repulsed, until he had decided that he needed to use her. She manifested her wrath in response to the fact that he was quite willing to sacrifice her for the sake of preserving his own powers, just as he had indicated to Shetland.

Their bond worked two ways, and as Ebon had sensed her longing and despair that still lingered from past events, Anna was also aware how he had gone from wanting nothing to do with her, to objectifying her completely. If she had allowed it to, his total disregard for her would have destroyed her. And now Ebon understood that she knew that too.

Surprised by her backlash even though he had asked for it, Ebon let go, stepping back a pace. By bullying her, as he often had in the past, he had opened the lid on something that wasn’t about to go away just because he had tired of it. Anna seethed before him, and the crimson flames of her eyes burned into him.

“I want my life back,” Anna demanded. “I will not exist simply to feed your need for power, or to fuel your ego. You may not care about me. You may have never cared about me, but there are others who have, and there will be others that will. You may need me, but when this is over, I won’t need you anymore and that’s how I want it to be.”

Ebon glared at her, not sure how to react to her outburst. This was not the Anna he knew. He had expected her to be so weak, so pliable. He had been depending on it.

“You are always so spiteful,” Anna continued. “You push everyone away like they intend you malice, whether they deserve it or not, and you torment anyone who tries to get close. I know it’s a defence mechanism, but that doesn’t make it right. Hurting others to protect yourself is wrong. I won’t be your victim anymore.”

In response, Ebon was tempted to make a sarcastic comment, or to say something hurtful to crush Anna’s spirit and to get her to back down. He couldn’t bring himself to do it. She really had taken the upper hand here. While she did need Ebon to communicate with others and to manipulate physical objects, that did not carry with it the same importance for her as accessing his magic carried for Ebon. She was only isolated without him. He was helpless without her. Instead of offering a counter argument, he wordlessly turned and started back towards the others.

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