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Pamela Regis is a professor at McDaniel College and is the director of the American romance department, however, she is best known for her book, A Natural History of the Romance Novel (McDaniel College). According to Regis, romance novels have eight specific components which characterize it as a romantic story, following the heroine through a cyclical process filled with turmoil and finishing with the heroine attaining the central theme of freedom. In each romance novel, there are details about the problematic society that surrounds the couple and defines the struggles faced by each character in this society, displaying the barriers put between them and happiness, yet is miraculously changed when the couple ends up together (31).
The moment the characters meet is an integral part of a romance novel, and whether it happens in the present or the past, it is referenced to many times because it is when a “hint of the conflict to come is often introduced,” (Regis 31). Although ultimate liberation is attained at the end, the novel is powered by certain barriers, internal and/or external, respectively explained by Regis as, “…elements of the setting […] family, the economic situation […] and coincidence” and “attitudes, temperament, values and beliefs held by heroine and hero that prevent the union” (Regis 32).
The component of attraction, occurring in all forms, is what keeps the hero and heroine interested and continue to fight to break down these barriers so that they can be together (33). The declaration of love exchanged between the couple most commonly occurs at the end of the novel and blames barriers for preventing a sooner statement or the beginning when the characters experience a moment in which they are taken aback by the other from the first time they met and must overcome a boundary to act on their desire (34).
Although a death does not always occur at the point of ritual death is the scene in the story in which something drastic happens and it is believed that the couple truly cannot end up together, which is often equivalized with death in the eyes of the heroine and hero (35). The recognition scenes alleviate the pain of the point of ritual death as there is clear hope for the union of the characters as the heroine overcomes a physical barrier, or an internal barrier in which “she has learned to know herself and to distinguish sound perceptions from unsound” (Regis 37). The resolution of the romance novel is the betrothal or at least the sound knowledge that there is a happy ending together, yet the betrothal also signifies, “the heroine’s […] escape from ritual death […] and by her defeat of the barrier” (Regis 38). The point of ritual death is a necessary moment in all romance novels because it keeps the reader invested and continue reading until the end. The drama of it all makes the ending much sweeter than if the couple had been happy and lived an easy life together all a
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