Desire and Temptation: Dialogism and the Carnivalesque in Category Romances Desire and Temptation: Dialogism and the Carnivalesque in Category Romances

Author
Publication year
1994
Pages
97-113
Comment

I use examples from recent Harlequin Presents, from Silhouette Desires and Harlequin Temptations, the latter two considered the sexier and racier lines for the contemporary reader. (98)

-----

It is true that romances affirm the authority of paternal law. Yet they also bring to the fore the power and the subversive possibilities of the feminine. Every story can be seen as a repetition of the same female victory. Male resistance, when present, is ineffectual in each case because the hero eventually concedes to the female. To read romances positively would be to see them as works that celebrate the force and energies of woman. Cynics may want to reduce this force to mere lust, but, as I have tried to show, desire and the sexual act itself are imbued with language that elicit the complexities of myth, fantasy, and popular Freudian psychoanalysis. In addition, the yielding of the hero does not mean a loss to his masculine selfhood but is usually depicted as advantageous to both the woman and the man. (103)

-----

Through disguise and masks, the heroines live in a carnival-like fantasy with two or more identities at the same time. Often in these novels, the question of who is the "real" woman that the hero loves has ontological implications for women in general. Significantly, what these novels show is the difficulty for a woman of ascertaining identity or achieving subjectivity. (107)