Judge Me by the Joy I Bring

Publication year

Seidel argues that "fantasy is the most important element in the appeal of popular fiction" (159) and that "In a fantasy you are longing, wishing, desiring to walk - for some time at least and perhaps only in the imagination - in some other pair of shoes. A book of popular fiction succeeds when you have, within the reading experience, achieved that desire" (159).

The plot of a romance novel - especially its happy ending - sets up fantasies about the way the world ought to work. A happy ending is necessary, inevitable. The heroine is guaranteed a husband, a home, and financial security.

Because of the ending's guarantee, the heroine has license to behave, during the unfolding of the plot, in ways that most of us don't dare. She can get angry with the hero and can vent her anger on him. She can reject him; he will always return. She can put herself in the path of physical danger, and if she does have to confront - as many historical heroines do - poverty or violence, she survives without emotional degradation. (160-161)

Seidel discusses various settings and suggests that "certain fantasies are usually associated with certain times and places" (166). Another issue discussed is "repetitive reading" (176).