Friday, January 04, 2019

HEAs and "A Righted Universe"

Jennifer Porter's written a long thread on Twitter which examines a particular element of the Happy Ever After in more detail. The whole thread can be found here (via threadreaderapp) or here (at Twitter, but you'll have to scroll to the top). That element is what Porter (drawing on a post by Super Wendy) calls "a righted universe", and Porter states that "If the universe isn’t right, many of use reject the HEA/FN even if it exists".

I don't want to repeat the implications which Jennifer Porter draws out. They're in her thread, so there's no need to repeat them all here. But I do think that this insight into how readers feel about "a righted universe" enhances Pamela Regis's analysis of the essential elements of romance. Regis does, in fact, allude to the "righted universe". First of all, she offers "society defined" (31) as one of the essential elements of romance:

As she says, "This society is in some way flawed". Later, Regis returns to the issue of the flawed society:

The "accidental element" is the scene which demonstrates that "Society has reconstituted itself" (38) but, Regis says, "this scene is promised in every romance, even if it is not dramatized" (38). One could, then, argue that "Society reconstituted" (i.e. "a righted universe") is, for many readers, a ninth essential element.

Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.