blueinkedfrost: (Canon necrophilia)
This is a reasonably common nineteenth-century trope, though some of my examples below are twentieth-century. The story goes that a man falls in love with a woman, who rejects him in order to marry another man. She has a daughter. The man falls in love with the daughter and this time is successful in his suit.

Sometimes the trope's played with overt misogynistic disdain to the mother ('she turned down this nice protagonist guy because she was a shallow bitch, fortunately the 2.0 model in her daughter is much better made'), sometimes it's simply that the mother and the man weren't suited.

The obvious misogyny and creepiness that this older man deserves the beautiful girl young enough to be his daughter isn't lost on most people in the twenty-first century. There's an unpleasant implication that the mother is no longer attractive because she's lived her life and had a family, and that what a middle-aged or older man really needs is an virginal young woman who doesn't have any life experience to compare with him. As well, the incest squick often extends toward people who have had past romantic relationships with our blood relations, i.e. daughter dating mother's ex-boyfriend.

Age differences can, though don't always, mean power differentials as well. The power differentials can be especially strong if the man has been close to the young girl in her childhood as a family friend and adult authority figure, before pursuing her romantically when she hits puberty.

For some reason (sexism) this trope is much rarer in gender reversed form. A woman who once loved a man who married another hardly ever gets to marry his young son. The potential creepy factor for age and power differentials remains in the gender reversed version, but it would be great if more stories gave older women more agency in general.

Like any trope, there are ways to write this badly and ways to write it well. There are non-creepy ways to write it well. Two adults choosing to be with each other despite an age difference is very different from a creepy man grooming a child to grow into his bride. I'd never argue that all relationships with age differences are evil and wrong; there are plenty of real life counterexamples. It just depends on whether the writer can convincingly portray these two people as adults making a free and informed choice rather than one exploiting the other.

Here are some nineteenth century / early twentieth century literary examples:

  • Fanny Fern wrote a novella called 'Fanny Ford'. A man is sent to prison and never gets to marry his fiancee; his fiancee marries another and dies in childbirth. The man adopts the orphaned child and marries her when she is seventeen. This is presented as good because the man's character reformed between his prison time and his bringing up the child. (To be fair, he didn't bring up the child himself so much as leave her with good people.)

  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon's novel 'Milly Darrell' gives a variant on this trope with a young stepmother's stepdaughter falling for her stepmother's ex-boyfriend, thereby making the age difference much less.

  • Mary E. Waller's novel 'A Cry in the Wilderness' features a deserted husband who falls in love with his wife's illegitimate daughter, partly because of her resemblance to her mother.

  • L.M. Montgomery's short story 'The Education of Betty' uses the trope straight. The Emily series also depicts Emily becoming engaged to a contemporary of her father's, though Dean Priest is represented as more than a little creepy.

  • The trope is considered in Eleanor H. Porter's 'Pollyanna Grows Up'. John Pendleton was rejected by Pollyanna's mother and lived a sad bachelor's life for a number of years. Pollyanna sees it as her duty to marry him if he wants her, though fortunately he doesn't. Especially given that Pendleton was considered a little too old for Pollyanna's mother.

  • Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles uses a variation on the trope where the heroine's younger sister is expected to be her husband's next wife (although the legality of this is doubtful due to laws against marrying a deceased wife's sister).

And, to be fair, here's a nineteenth-century counterexample:

  • In 'Manouevering' by Maria Edgeworth (published 1809), wealthy older baronet Sir John Hunter initially courts Mrs Palmer's nubile daughter Amelia, but marries the mother instead. However, Mrs Palmer is close to his age, not nearly old enough to be his mother.

And then there's the "I'm my own grandfather" joke - a man and a son fall in love with a mother and a daughter; the man marries the daughter and the son the mother. The son is now his father's father-in-law, making him his own grandad. It's fun!
blueinkedfrost: (Canon necrophilia)
Over Christmas, I wrote two gifts for two exchanges: one for Yuletide, and one for the Baldur's Gate Gift Exchange. Both stories were for the Baldur's Gate fandom.

Summary: The Bhaalspawn must survive with an unlikely companion when he's trapped in a cave.
Characters: Charname, Sarevok

I was the person who encouraged my recipient to sign up to Yuletide, so it made me very happy that they didn't guess my identity until after reveals!

Summary: Sylfana is going to kill Gromnir Il-Khan with her bare hands. Before that, she'll take a moment of luxury with her lover Edwin. Edwin romance, explicit.
Characters: Charname, Edwin

When PuggiePuggie said they didn't mind nsfw, I was happy to stretch my writing muscles and try writing some smut! I feel like I’ve become more repressed as I’ve grown older, so it was good to write an explicit story.
blueinkedfrost: (Default)
 Over Christmas, I wrote two gifts for two exchanges: one for Yuletide, and one for the Baldur's Gate Gift Exchange. Both stories were for the Baldur's Gate fandom.

Summary: The Bhaalspawn must survive with an unlikely companion when he's trapped in a cave.
Characters: Charname, Sarevok

I was the person who encouraged my recipient to sign up to Yuletide, so it made me very happy that they didn't guess my identity until after reveals!

Summary: Sylfana is going to kill Gromnir Il-Khan with her bare hands. Before that, she'll take a moment of luxury with her lover Edwin. Edwin romance, explicit.
Characters: Charname, Edwin

When PuggiePuggie said they didn't mind nsfw, I was happy to stretch my writing muscles and try writing some smut! I feel like I’ve become more repressed as I’ve grown older, so it was good to write an explicit story.
blueinkedfrost: (Default)
Bhaalspawn Rebellion, a Baldur's Gate fanfic. (Archiveofourown version.) 94K words, complete.

This story was soft science fiction - hot butter on the Mohs scale - with swords, spaceships, and a fun universe that I don’t own to play around in. I enjoyed writing it.

Summary: Baldur’s Gate, IN SPACE. Lionstone XIV, the Empress, rules as a tyrant from the Iron Throne. The warrior Ourawang, daughter of Bhaal, seeks to overthrow her, but not without help from a cyberrat, an esper, a thug, and a mad terrorist. Fusion crossover with Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker series. Don’t need to know canon.

Main characters: Bhaalspawn, Imoen, Aerie, Montaron, Xzar
blueinkedfrost: (Canon necrophilia)
Bhaalspawn Rebellion, a Baldur's Gate fanfic. (Archiveofourown version.) 94K words, complete.

This story was soft science fiction - hot butter on the Mohs scale - with swords, spaceships, and a fun universe that I don’t own to play around in. I enjoyed writing it.

Summary: Baldur’s Gate, IN SPACE. Lionstone XIV, the Empress, rules as a tyrant from the Iron Throne. The warrior Ourawang, daughter of Bhaal, seeks to overthrow her, but not without help from a cyberrat, an esper, a thug, and a mad terrorist. Fusion crossover with Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker series. Don’t need to know canon.

Main characters: Bhaalspawn, Imoen, Aerie, Montaron, Xzar
blueinkedfrost: (Canon necrophilia)
Dogmatic opinion of the day: modern & not-so-modern failures to appreciate Fanny Price's character are entirely and always due to illiteracy, sexism, and/or general bias and lack of reading comprehension.

"a monster of complacency and pride, who, under a cloak of cringing self-abasement, dominates and gives meaning to the novel" - Kingsley Amis

"I have looked up this girl's dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian, but such a Christian -- a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouselike, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss! The little brute! She makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier. It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened. We'd have had her to the arena in the old days. That's what her sort is made for. Not that she'd do much good there, either. A two-faced little cheat (I know the sort) who looks as if she'd faint at the sight of blood, and then dies with a smile. A cheat every way. Looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, [...a] Filthy, insipid little prude -- and yet ready to fall into this booby's arms like any other breeding animal." - CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, context not quite the same thing (source Pemberley)

What does Fanny Price do that's allegedly so terrible?

  • Believes it's good for a family and their servants to all worship together. I couldn't disagree more - but Fanny is not in the least being hypocritical. She would worship herself and believes it is good for everyone. She has a point, relative to that era: communal gatherings can indeed be good for everyone.

  • Tells Edmund that Mary Crawford wrote wishing for Tom's death - after Edmund has already been disillusioned about Mary. Previously, Fanny carefully restrained herself against criticising Mary, and on any number of occasions stops herself from being a tell-tale, such as against Mrs Norris or against Maria and Julia's conduct with Henry.

  • Is willing for Maria Bertram to be exiled from her family and forced into retirement with Mrs Norris after her running away with Henry caused societal scandal. Again, this is in keeping with the standards of the times, and Fanny's standard is far from a double standard. She finds Henry's conduct equally repulsive, even though he does not receive nearly as severe a punishment. Maria is supported by her family; she won't be received by them.

  • Disapproves of the play despite appreciating some of the acting: because the play is being done behind Sir Thomas' back, and because it's is a thiny veiled excuse for Henry to selfishly exploit Maria's and Julia's emotions. Also, Lover's Vows is not a very uplifting play nor strong in literary merit - let's settle for rating it as about as well written as Twilight, slightly more feminist relative to its time, and primarily relevant today as a historical document.

  • Dares to hold ethical and religious standards that she has thought through herself.

  • Refuses to marry a man she does not love and who holds contrary values and goals to her own, in spite of incredible familial pressure brought to bear on her.

  • Refuses to sacrifice her hopes and dreams in order to redeem a bad boy.

  • A two-faced agenda? We spend most of the novel inside Fanny's head. She tries to live all her standards and she's reluctant to condemn or attack anyone. An utterly unsubstantiated and completely false charge, referable to the above-mentioned lack of reading comprehension.


That's it.

Fanny is an introvert: timid, shy, and insecure. This is partly because of the Bertrams and Aunt Norris raising her as inferior to her cousins and teaching her that her wishes are not worthy of consideration. Edmund is the only one to show her kindness. How Fanny turned out is no surprise.

And were Fanny more a Scarlett O'Hara or Anne of Green Gables sort, Mrs Norris would have eaten her alive.Read more... )

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