Jessica at Read React Review is posing the question "What Does The Romance Genre Say About the Good Life?" She lists the following as aspects of "the view of the good life found in the romance genre":
- "romantic love"
- "material welfare"
- "physical and mental health"
- "physical beauty"
- "moral virtue"
The love of a good woman (or man, or God, or Son of God) heals all wounds, forgives all sins stretching back to the stain of original sin, resurrects a dead man, saves a lost soul, integrates false persona and true self, can make a real man—or real woman—out of you. The belief in the healing power of love is the central trope of erotic faith, western Christian culture, and romance novels alike. Whether the romance narrative borrows this belief from the Christian religious tradition or whether the latter takes this perennial belief and incorporates it as central to its theology is a chicken-and-egg question that need not concern us here. Either way, love, in various forms of agape, phile, and eros, is the central emotional dynamic in the life quest for meaning, happiness, and—the point on which I want to focus—the crucial category of wholeness or healing.When the reader leaves the romance protagonists at the end of the novel, they have generally achieved what Jessica calls the "good life" or, in the terminology of Roach's argument,
an eschaton of love, commitment, completion, fulfillment, happiness, generational continuity, maturity, and hope. The happily-ever-after ending functions as a foundational psychological component of human wish-fulfillment: we yearn for this ideal paradise where we are loved, where the quest for wholeness is granted, where wounds are made right, where pleasure and security reign guaranteed.Both Jessica and Roach's conclusions are based on generalisations, but it seems to me that those generalisations are nonetheless relatively accurate descriptions of a high proportion of the genre. If any of those conclusions seem at all troubling, perhaps the reasons why can be discussed at Read React Review and JPRS.