Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Honor Killing"

The AP reported on June 28, 2006: "A jury in Copenhagen convicted nine people, all family members or friends, of murder or accessory to murder in the killing of a 19-year-old woman. The woman was gunned down by her older brother last September, two days after her wedding, because her Pakistani family disapproved of her choice of a husband."

I take the long view of romance--looking at the older books, beginning with Richardson's Pamela. There a reader can see the shift in motives for marriage--from dynastic (marrying out of duty, for reasons of family, property, and so forth) to companionate (marrying for love). Most if not all of contemporary romance novels simply assume that companionate union is the only, best reason for pairing off. What would such a romance mean or say to a reader from a culture that believes in dynastic union?


  1. I know very little about Bollywood films, but don't many of them centre round a love story, despite the fact that many people in India still have arranged marriages? And they don't all have unhappy endings, just as Shakespeare wrote both about both tragic and happy outcomes for lovers, and again that was a society where arranged marriages (particularly for the nobility) were usual. Even in the British Regency, where there were lovematches, it wasn't considered appropriate behaviour to elope, and marrying against one's family's wishes could have serious consequences.

    I suspect that in cultures where family is important in determining/influencing the choice of marriage partner the 'contemporary romance novels [which] simply assume that companionate union is the only, best reason for pairing off' might have a certain appeal, because it's not as though these cultures don't acknowledge the existence or power of passionate love. Mills and Boon, for example, sell in India. But the reader will maybe be less likely to think that such an outcome is possible for her, and some members of her family may well disapprove of her reading material. That's what I gathered from reading the articles by Parameswaran and Puri on the romance bibliography:

    The other side of the coin is that a reader who comes from a culture where it's 'assume[d] that companionate union is the only, best reason for pairing off', may not understand the depth of the conflict between love and duty that lovers face in a culture where marriages are made primarily for dynastic reasons.

  2. I've just had another thought about this. What about inspirational romances? It seems to me that they aren't just about two people marrying for love. The couple also have to be compatible in their religious beliefs, and if they're not, that can form the 'barrier' which has to be overcome before the HEA can be achieved.