Let’s face it ladies (and gent), Guy is not the kind of man you’d bring home to meet momma. He is boorish and thoughtless, sometimes compassionate, often times cruel. He is not relationship material. But it’s his love for Marian and their potential romance that fascinates fans including myself: would he have become a better man if Marian had really cared for him? Put another way: can a bad boy be saved by the love of a good woman?
Feminists would groan that this perpetuates the tired stereotype of the selfless female willing to sacrifice her self-worth in the name of saving a rotten apple, who more likely than not, will screw her over in the end. I’m sure many have been admonished to avoid no-good men. Experience has taught some of us to spot one at 30 paces and that these men usually don’t change. We are not to get involved with such a man and heaven forbid we should marry him. Yet we wistfully sigh with hearts aflutter that Marian, nay, we as Marian, could have, would have saved him.
But wait, cry the feminists, what about the Cinderella complex: the knight in shining armor coming to save us? Guy repeatedly offered Marian his name and protection; as his wife she would be save from the world. I don’t know about other fans, but I was taught that while finding a companion who would enhance my life was beneficial, I did not need a man to protect me. I suspect I’m not the only one to absorb this lesson. Yet we in the 21st century are drawn to the idea of a knight in shining armor, albeit, a black knight in the 12th century. The pull is irresistible. But it’s an old line, feminists would say which goes: don’t worry your pretty little head baby, I’ll take care of you. Nevermind, we sigh, he’ll change for the better. And so it goes.
So how do I reconcile my inner feminist with fascination for character I would run a mile from in real life? I pride myself on being rational and pragmatic for the most part; what in the world am I thinking?
I pondered this question long and hard before it dawned on me – there is no real conflict. Guy of Gisborne is exactly what he is, a fictional character, a fantasy. I am free to fantasize whatever I want because he’s not real. I can be pragmatic in understanding that idealized romanticism does not translate well to real life; a man like Guy would be bad news. But in my fantasy, it’s safe to entertain my savior complex or my Cinderella complex all I want. I can be not-me. So I can feel sorry for Guy as he blunders down his evil path, think Marian cruel for her manipulations, and sigh wistfully at what might have been. I can even revel in his badness and feed my inner bad girl. As long I keep in mind the difference between reality and fantasy, there is no problem.
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