Is Chivalry Dying in Books? | Wednesday Rambles

Wednesday RamblesI deeply apologize for being so inconsistent with my posting these past few days! My reading and blogging schedule has been insane lately, and I hope to set myself back on track soon! Wednesday Rambles is a weekly discussion meme, created here at Another Book in the Wall, where (as the name implies) I ramble about whatever is lurking in the uncharted backwaters of my mind. A trend I’ve noticed and have been wanting to address for a while, is how chivalry has become less common throughout literature in the past decade or so. In society nowadays, we tend to greatly stress girl power and independence. While this is often a positive reinforcement, I find myself missing stories with the knight in shining armor and damsel in distress.

Why I Enjoy Chivalry

I truly believe that chivalry shouldn’t die. I am by no means, suggesting that all female characters in books should rely solely on members of the male sex to save them, but am merely saying how I miss parts of this element in stories. Growing up, I adored the idea of princesses waiting for their prince to come, and it truly saddens me how this theme isn’t displayed as often in today’s society. Whatever happened to the kind gentleman who would move heaven and earth to save the woman he loved? I find this to be a beautiful and heartwarming motive, and love it when this is a driving force in the plot. Ever since this theme has taken a down turn in recent years, I don’t recall a single Disney movie that has released where the male hero saves the female heroine in the end. It’s almost always the princess or female lead who saves herself, the male protagonist, or someone else. Independence and self-confidence is a great subject matter to promote, but I can’t help but feel as though many books and movies are missing that classic touch. I am completely in favor of this being shown throughout media, but it would be nice if there was a sufficient amount of movies with men saving the day as well. Our prince charmings are being cast into the shadows.

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Kick-Butt Female Protagonists Are Becoming Cliche’d

Perhaps this is just me, but I’ve noticed that most female protagonists in young adult literature leech off of a stereotypical model. The female is always strong, independent, hardened by life, and often reclusive or withdrawn from their social crowd. I’ve seen a number of Katniss Everdeen’s and Tris Prior’s in so many novels nowadays, that I’ve honestly grown bored of this trending pattern. Young women should be unique as individuals, and not be categorized as either extreme – helpless damsel or kick-butt goddess. When they’re portrayed as being incessantly powerful, without the help of others, this is both unrealistic and superficial. There’s no shame in a protagonist having to rely on others for support, regardless of their company’s sex.

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Where Should the Line Be Drawn?

I believe the ideal female protagonist lies somewhere between these two types of character labels. A heroine should be able to make appropriate choices and decisions throughout a novel based on her own judgement and personal beliefs; however, I think it would be appealing if our female protagonists also relied on men every so often for support. There shouldn’t be a defining label for a male or female to be the hero and the defenseless. By instituting dynamics such as this, more complex and intriguing relationships can be formed, and this will constitute realism. Both sexes hold diverse skill sets, and I would love it if authors decided to utilize the strengths of male and female protagonists to their fullest potential. Wanting to save your true love, no matter the cost, is a lovely ambition, and I wish it was shown in literature more often – especially that of the male striving to save the female. Chivalry may have been altered and undervalued in the past ten years, but I don’t believe it is, or should be dead.


What are your thoughts on chivalry in books? Do you think it’s dead, or should be? Are female protagonists spiraling in the wrong direction? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

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43 thoughts on “Is Chivalry Dying in Books? | Wednesday Rambles

  1. Interesting. Basically when it comes to a female lead I want someone who has an actual personality. If they don’t leave an actual impression on me, like most kickass characters or damsels in distress. And even those in the middle sometimes don’t have a distinct personality and I find it very boring.

    I’m also a bit sick of every character having a completely tragic, messed up background. Like the occasional character great, but some characters with healthy or normal backgrounds would be nice too? Variety is the spice of life after all!

    Also I love chivalry! Even if it’s not massive and just small things. Prince Charmings are great, but even normal male characters can be a bit chivalrous.

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  2. What a wonderful post! And a great perspective! I’m also a woman who would be sad to see chivalry die and I do not want to see the prince charmings cast into the shadows! I really don’t think it’s just you. Personally, I’m quite girly and (I might get in trouble for saying this) I get criticised a lot for not being physically strong when that’s really not my body type- while I appreciate that a lot of people identify and want to read about physically strong female protagonists… I don’t personally identify with that and I get frustrated that nearly every female character has to be able to kick butt- I tend to prefer the sharp witted female characters- and yes, it’s nice when the male character can offer physical strength to compliment that. I’m not saying that it can’t be the other way round, but it seems like the focus is more often on the woman being physically strong… and usually rescuing the guy. Sorry, I’m rambling a bit and I hope you don’t mind me being candid, but this is a really great post and it made me excited to see I’m not the only one who thinks this!

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  3. I like chivalry too, and I agree that the females in YA are tending to fall into a stereotype. But I don’t think chivalry should be exclusive to males. What if the male was the damsel-in-distress?
    I also like it when people move mountains for love, as you said. It’s really sweet. But do original Disney movies really represent that? They’re certainly chivalrous, but all the couple I can think of just met and barely know each other when the male character moves mountains. They might care for each other, but I don’t think they’ve known each other long enough to really be in love.
    (Tangled is my favorite Disney movie. Tangled is the best 😁)

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    1. I think its alright to have certain situations when the male is the damsel in distress too. I feel like this happens often in Disney movies nowadays, such as in Tangled. Don’t get me wrong, Tangled is my favorite Disney movie of all time too (😅), but I miss some of the old heroes like Prince Philip and Aladdin who would come to save the day.

      I totally see what you’re saying about when people move mountains for love when they just met. I’m not the biggest fan of instalove, but most fairy tales seem oblivious to the concept of taking it slow. Hahahahaha.

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      1. Mulan seems to be the exception, I suppose. She fit the stereotype before it was a stereotype and she and the general actually knew each other before mountains began moving.
        I would still consider him chivalrous, though.
        So you can have it all, if you wanted.

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  4. I guess I am slightly worried that if young girls grow up on tales where male characters come and save the day, they may start believing them and then consequently may spend their whole lives in waiting rooms.

    Lots of modern female characters are losing their femininity though and I think it is important to show readers that you can have both. As a woman, you can be both strong and remain feminine – caring, loving, gentle and nourishing. And that those qualities are not weaknesses.

    Equally portraying men as strong, fearless, stoic and ‘defending women’ characters can lead to a lot of angry men who are unable to process their emotions… because boys don’t cry, do they.

    It’s an interesting article and do see your point. ❤

    I think you nailed it with the balance bit. Extremes are always dangerous, and diversity is very important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with what you said about modern female characters losing their femininity. It’s almost as though possessing feminine qualities is a sign of weakness in YA novels. I think authors should try to display those qualities in females more. One of my favorite female protagonists, is Celaena from Throne of Glass, because although she’s an assassin, she’s also quite feminine. Thanks for commenting! ❤️

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  5. Such a wonderful post! I’ve always had a problem with the idea of a “strong female character”. I feel like it implies that a woman can only be “strong” if she can kill 50 men with nothing but a spoon all without breaking a sweat. If not, they are automatically weak and are portrayed as always being in distress and then shamed for needing a man to help them. It’s become such a problematic cliche and authors need to seriously rethink how they portray female characters. Also, I love chivalrous characters. There is nothing wrong with a knight in shining armor saving someone!

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  6. PREACH! I started to feel like this for a while now, but you described exactly what I was feeling! It seems almost a taboo nowadays to have a bit of chivalry in books. No now almost every girl has to be a badass, and it feels stupid to me as not all girls are like that? Yes, society should see girls as being just as independent and capable of being the strong hero as a man, but that doesn’t mean that there can be weaker girls too? I’m dying for a book to make me feel again like the disney movies did!

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  7. I agree with you because I think what I most want is variety in books. We can have some with strong female characters who don’t need a man. But we can also have some with female characters who find strength in being a team with someone else. Even some where *gasp* the female character is a little bit weak and maybe does kind of keep some protection. I want to read about all kinds of characters because all kinds of people exist. Not every book needs to be a lesson in how to be a badass woman.

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    1. I absolutely agree. Young adult authors should strive to capture the essence of all different kinds of young women. There are plenty of females who are strong and independent in literature, but it’s nice to see diversity out there, and for moments of weakness to displayed. Thanks for commenting! ❤️

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  8. I so agree with you on this topic. I’m all for girl power and embracing your own strength, but sometimes acknowledging your weakness and asking for help from others is also a strength. I think with the prince charming like trope what we missed was that added layer of depth. Yes, be chivalric, but also let us see their weaknesses as well. I think overall we need to see characters both male and female that embrace their inner strengths but also highlight their weaknesses in order to make them more grounded if that makes sense.

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  9. I get annoyed when a female character gets offended when any dude even tries helping with anything. Like basically how dare they… 😀
    How would that same female character feel if someone did the same thing and basically tell them to piss of when they are trying to be nice? I bet they would throw a fit about that too…

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  10. I find it strange that “strong” heroines are only valued for their physical strength even though there are other kinds of strength. Physical strength is still a stereotypically masculine way to judge a character’s worth in fiction.

    As for chivalry, I get the sense it might return to stories but with some modern updates.

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  11. I agree! I’m kind of sick of the kickass heroines, especially considering most of them aren’t being done well nowadays. Authors just stick to the cliche formula of an empowered female without really thinking it through, and that doesn’t do it for me. Not to mention, it’s nice to see a nice old-fashioned romance with gentlemanly dudes; doesn’t mean the female has to be dumbed down, but rather that both genders can be both empowered. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree so much! I mean, I’m all for the girl power in literature as well but the females backstories are getting a bit redundant. Maybe it would come off better if they varied and showed strengths AND a few realistic weaknesses? And part of me does miss the chivalrous male in literature while the other part says their backstories need to change too. No one is all strength or all weakness and I think that should be shown more in literature rather than promoting the opposite.

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