Why do we call love stories cliched? It is because the literary hero is always a good guy who wins the girl and they live happily ever after. Literature is a reflection of real life and, if real life always had a happy ending then we would all be bored to death! We all know that no human being is perfect. It is our imperfections that make us human and thus, our literary heroes too must portray these imperfections.
So, what is hero called when if is less than perfect? Infact what if the hero is the bad guy of the novel? In technical terms, such a literary hero would be called a Byronic hero. This prototype character is named after poet Lord Byron who was quite the bad guy himself. And yet he was immensely popular with the ladies. As we all know women readers are notorious for loving the bad guys.
That is why, some of the most popular literary heroes have been bad guys. The original Byronic hero, Heathclif springs to our mind immediately when we talk about bad boys. Another more recent and equally popular example would be Edward Cullen from the Twilight series. Many such seemingly evil literary heroes have ruled the hearts of women readers for centuries.
Let us take a look at these literary heroes who are actually bad guys but we still love them.
Edward Cullen, Twilight Series
The hot vegetarian vampire from the neighbourhood is less than friendly. And yet, all the girls, including Bella, the pretty new girl in high school, loves him.
Christian Grey, Fifty Shades Of Grey
He is the latest addition to the hoard of evil literary heroes. The guy is a billionaire with control issues. And he physically abuses women. Still women readers are pouring over Fifty Shades Of Grey to know what Christian Grey does next.
William Darcy, Pride And Prejudice
He is the best man among the bad guys. He has terrible dark vices expect his pride and rudeness. But feisty Miss Elizabeth Bennet takes care of that.
Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
Talk about falling for the Devil himself; Heathcliff is a man who is drenched in evil but Cathrine can love no other man. Cathrine's famous lines "I am Heathcliff" can never be forgotten.
Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre
Ugly, cruel and authoritative, Mr Rochester initially scares Jane, the governess of his child. But then she falls passionately in love with her.
Achilles, The Iliad
Although most people think of Achilles as a tragic hero, he is a byronic lover. He did have a love interest in the Trojan Princess who he abducted. But his notorious rage always came in the way.
Edward Dantes, Count Of Monte Cristo
This long winding suspense thriller is more about Edmund Dantes, a man possessed by the thoughts of revenge.
Dorian Gray, Picture Of Dorian Gray
The hedonistic young man, who wants his portrait to grow old, instead of him! Dorian Gray may not have the physical excesses of Christian Gray but he is no less evil.
Mr Thorton, North And South
Margarete hates the North and its industrial wasteland. And thus she hates the contemptuous cotton mill owner Mr. Thorton who is cruel to the workers. But eventually it turns into a romantic love story.
Maximilian de Winter, Rebecca
Maxim de Winter is the typical rude millionaire who ill-treats his wife. And yet, his wife sticks around to understand the cause of her husband's distress.