“O let me visit Hero ere I die!” ugh, Que heartbreak. Sorry for introducing my first blog post with such a heavy topic, buttttt doesn’t everyone love a good tragedy? Especially one that has survived the test of time and embedded itself in multiple movies, songs, and not to mention, texts. Romeo and Juliet is probably one of the most infamous tragedies which portrays an allusion of the elusive poem Hero & Leander, written and adapted by Christopher Marlowe. So, if Shakespeare and Marlowe valued it, we need to talk about it.
Let me break the myth down for you real quick, in case you’ve never read it:
Hero is UM, gorgeous, a virgin, and a priestess of Aphrodite -AKA- The love Goddess. Hero lives in a tower all by her lonesome, located on the Hellespont in the city of Sestus. Leander, the stud and seducer of the story, also lives upon the Hellespont across the Mediterranean sea. Upon their meeting at a fun-filled festival, Leander falls head over heels in love with Hero, where he desires to shag her and propose marriage. Hero, unfortunately explains that she cannot marry a man from a foreign city (why is it always the parents?), so Leander vows to swim to her tower every night just to be with her. Hero helps her lover by placing a bright lamp outside her window to guide him through the dark waters. BUT all else fails. A terrible storm blows through on a moments notice, and the glowing lamp is snuffed out by the strong winds, causing poor, beautiful Leander to lose his way and drown. Hero is left trembling on the shore, as she collects her mans broken body, and later, casts herself off the top of her tower to die.
GAH, I cant tell you how much this story wrecked me the first time I read it. I am a hopeless romantic by nature, so when I read pieces that leave me “in my feels,” I end up creating so many different outcomes of the story in my head. Like, why didn’t Leander get a damn boat? OR just tell Hero’s parents to f**k off? These myths sometimes make me question societies obsession with tragic love stories. Why do we value them so much? Is it because the lovers do not end up together, something forbidden that makes a fire grow in our chests and causes us to daydream about our own search for love?
I think love in any story is definitely something that has to be plugged into the plot, just because its such a relatable topic for readers. Some might think differently, though in my opinion, your characters need to have in-depth emotions, like hate, anxiety, sorrow, happiness, and yes, love. There are MANY different forms of love. In this case, with Hero and Leander, their love was quick, breathless (pun intended), and cataclysmic.
So, my main question here; what kind of love is the most powerful in stories? Is it the tragic, life ending love? The simple, steady, best friend kind? The obsessive and possessive? The overwhelming opposites attract, or the unpredictable love? The good girl, bad boy complex love?My list of types can certainly go on and on. I myself have TRULY been in love only twice in my life. Both experiences are far and in-between with comparisons and differences, though, I will say love in all stages of life, with any partner, is ever changing.
It’s simply a matter of IF you evolve with that love or NOT that stands the test of time.
Where as in Hero’s mind and heart, accepting death, allowed her to move forward into an everlasting love with her Leander. Her sweet Leander.
So, let me know your thoughts. What do you think makes a love powerful when it comes to creating it between our characters?
“It lies not with our power to love or hate, for will in us is overruled by fate.”
– Christopher Marlowe *Hero & Leander*