from The Essential Paradise
The trope involves the attraction of a man to an adolescent girl, heretofore unknown to him, on the basis of her appearance or of her apparently availability or vulnerability, and his expectation of impressing her with his maturity, his experience and the intensity or sincerity of his interest in her.
Requisite principles Edit
In general, the man’s interest in the girl will be essentially unwelcome. She may be too young to appreciate the man’s interest, or to reciprocate it; she may be not attracted to him due to personality differences or differing expectations; or she may have already pledged herself to someone else. The man will typically not be rebuffed, considering such factors as irrelevant or as merely transient obstacles which the ardour of his interest in the girl may overcome. He will enjoy the prospect of having to win her over, of seducing her, even if against her will or (if only in his imagination) even by force. He will consider his own interest in the girl as something noble, as though she ought to be flattered by his attention, and as though only he knows and can fulfil her deepest desires and most fundamental needs. He will regard all her demurrals as only ‘feminine wiles’, being a firm believer in ‘No really means Yes’.
The man’s interest will begin spontaneously; he will often consider it as evidence of ‘love at first sight’. The girl may be less immediately aware of his attention, often surprised to discover that the man has been observing her and has been taking great pains to remain heretofore undetected. He will claim to be unfailingly constant, his infatuation not subject to temporal parameters; but when the present quarry proves too difficult he will reconcile himself to another, though rarely without lingering regret (such as by comparing the second unfavourably to the first) or without making some desperate shift to regain the former’s interest (such as by using the second to incite jealousy in the first).
His ultimate goal is to possess her, if only in his imagination, as a theoretical or potential partner for sexual relations, which he believes will, in time, bring the girl round to confessing romantic love for him and a need for his support, at which point he will retain the right to accept her or to jilt her, taking his decision (or threatening to) based on her demonstrated ability to please him by that time.
The man’s delusion may be conscious, in which case his interest in the girl is merely a transient diversion, or essential, in which case he may be rather psychopathic and the girl may be in some inherent danger. Often she is delivered from his influence only by a change in circumstances or by means not available to the man, such as a friend’s offer of a ride or her family’s attending her, typically towards a safe haven beyond the man’s ken or reach. Rarely does any saviour take up with the impertinent man on the girl's behalf; most often she simply avails herself of a fortuitous circumstance, such as stepping aboard a bus at the last moment.
Elements of the delusion Edit
The man's interest in the girl is founded on several principal factors:
- He regards man-woman relations as essentially a power struggle, due to his historical failure to favourably impress mature women.
- He has a deep-seated need to massage his own ego, due to his feeling inferior to most men.
- He regards only a virgin to be worthwhile, due to his need to incur other men’s envy at having been first to possess a desirable prize.
- All of the above are most easily resolved not by his own self-improvement but by his taking a vulnerable, inexperienced partner who will pose no appreciable physical or intellectual threat and will know no-one better to whom he might be unfavourably compared.
A good example may be seen in Mr Collins’ unwelcome attention to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. In having his proposal turned down, Mr Collins asserts that he knows her demurrals must be only a flirtatious device to increase his affection ‘by suspense’. Arrogantly self-deluded, he remains impervious to all others’ logical reasoning and marries another out of spite, retaining substantial bitterness (clearly rooted in lingering, jealous desire) towards Elizabeth for her having refused him earlier. In no place does Mr Collins ever acknowledge any fault of his own nor any responsibility, nor sympathy, for others’ awkwardness.
The trope is often confused with that of the untouchable bait, which relies upon the young woman's attributes, not the occasion of circumstances, to end the man's interest in her.
The trope is frequently seen in concert with that of the prodigal maiden and that of the untouchable bait. It does not necessitate any coapplication with either, however, nor to that of the closeted hussy, to which it is in fact a kind of antithesis, though both may occur simultaneously.
Examples, from the texts Edit
The trope is a fundamental one in the author’s Pamela; or Virtue Reclaimed; it also occurs in the novel Sylvia; or: The Revenge of The Slave, and throughout the Deirdre, the Wanderer series.
Noemi’s World, novel Edit
In Noemi’s Wold, the principal character, not yet 13 years of age, encounters Keith, a 29-year-old tourist who is immediately entranced by her. He pursues her politely, but relentlessly, convincing himself his interest in her is only Platonic whilst being unable to resist a deeper attraction to her. Noemi is both too naive and too virtuous to reciprocate, or even to comprehend, such interest and in the end will accept only his advice that she seek someone nearer to her age and situation.
Janine, of Paradise, story arc Edit
Janine frequently encounters older males who confess great interest in her. Typically each believes she is at least 15, basing the assumption on her prodigious figure and remaining blind to reality because he so strongly desires her so as a potential partner in sexual activity, if only in his imagination. In Cookie Call she is accosted by a confident American tourist, from whom she escapes by leaving the bus at an earlier stop and who follows her till she is able to reach the safety of her father’s place of work. The man attempts to trick her into sharing a taxi till the cabbie intervenes, defending the prerogative of a lady, at once angering the man and incurring Janine’s great gratitude and respect.
The Love of Gwendolyn Dahl, story arc Edit
Gwendolyn experiences harassment much as does Janine, most notably in The Stalker, in which she is pursued by a 50-ish American tourist after her weekly ballet practices. Gwendolyn admits that she is only 12 years old, stunned to find that the man considers her only the more attractive for it. She is delivered by two factors, neither of which represents any but coincidental salvation: first, Jonathan returns home and, learning of her predicament, arranges to meet her with a car from the Camelot estate each week after her practice; and, second, the man’s tourist visa probably expires as, after four weeks, he is no longer seen.
In The Interloper a vagrant on the beach actually gives chase, in vain, and takes to stalking the neighbourhood, asking up and down the coast as to her identity and whereabouts. The situation is resolved when Jonathan’s family invite her to Connecticut for the Christmas season; when they return the man is no longer in the vicinity and does not return.
The trope requires more than just an older man’s interest in an adolescent girl. The interest must be both unwelcome and disparaging or disreputable in intent, typically founded in the man's self-delusion or wilful arrogance and in his perception of her vulnerability and availability (an easy prey).
The trope does not apply when the admirer is benign, friendly, helpful, or apologetic, or when the the girl has, either deliberately or presumptuously, initiated the contact.
See also Edit
The eager ingenue, literary trope
The untouchable bait, literary trope
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Doc. 0,00.016 b. 2015.0918. Original content ©Jonnie Comet Productions. All rights reserved