Created By: Nocturna on September 24, 2011 Last Edited By: Nocturna on October 14, 2011
Troped

Inspirational Lady

The Hero is inspired or led by an idealized woman.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Name

Suggestions: La Dulcinea, Hero's Muse


Index ideas: Authority Tropes, Mentors, Love Interests, Purity Personified, Gender Dynamic Tropes, Always Female

Opinions on which of those indexes best fit/don't fit would be appreciated. As would any suggestions for other indexes that this belongs on.


Heroes on quests are common. Sometimes, The Hero's motivation for pursuing the quest derives from his regard for some sort of idealized woman. Not uncommonly, this lady is the hero's love interest, and he is striving in order to be able to marry her. His love for her is pure and strong and overcomes all temptations that are thrown into his path.

The lady herself often occupies an exalted role: she is a goddess, a saint, a queen, a princess, or something similar. Generally, she is very pure, sometimes to the point of seeming unapproachable. If she is unmarried, she is chaste. She is also often a Proper Lady.

The lady can be the one who gives the hero his quest; he then departs to complete it before returning to her. Alternatively, she flits in and out of the hero's path, reminding him of her presence but staying out of reach. Occasionally, she is at his side all along, serving as a reminder of what he is striving for and inspiring him to persevere. In all situations, she often dispenses advice to the hero, although that advice can be rather cryptic.

This trope is particularly common in works from the medieval and renaissance period, as it ties closely to the ideas of the Courtly Love tradition. In older works, it often takes the form of a knight errant and his lady love.

Compare to The Obi-Wan, The Lost Lenore, and Men Act, Women Are.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Kisara, the vessel of the White Dragon in Yu-Gi-Oh!: She provides an almost literal light to balance Seto's inner darkness, and her Heroic Sacrifice and death in his arms provides the inspiration for his reign, while she continues to protect him as the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
  • Rem in Trigun inspired and guided the main character, Vash. She's the reason he never kills anyone, no matter how much they deserve it. She took Vash and Knives in as her own children when the crew found them, and acted as their surrogate mother. She is extremely kind and idealistic, and Vash treats her lessons and worldviews as sacred.

Film
  • The soldiers in Mulan discuss this trope in the song "A Girl Worth Fighting For".

Literature
  • Dante of the Divine Comedy is sent on his quest for redemption through the afterlife by Beatrice, who enlists the help of the poet Virgil to guide him through Hell and Purgatory, and guides Dante through Heaven herself.
  • In the first book of the The Faerie Queene, The Redcrosse Knight is guided and inspired by his love, Una, who is the personification of the "true church".
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Arwen functions in this role for Aragorn: the driving force behind his striving to regain his crown is his love for Arwen and the fact that he can only marry her once he is king.
  • In Don Quixote, the eponymous hero fights for his lady love, whom he refers to as Dulcinea. In his mind, he elevates her to a princess and the most beautiful woman in the world, although she is in reality a peasant girl named Aldonza.
  • In The Golden Ass, the protagonist, Lucius, after searching long and hard for a way to reverse his transformation into a donkey, is finally inspired by the Egyptian goddess Isis. She reveals herself to him in a vision and teaches him the steps to change back into a human. Having fulfilled his tasks, he joins the Cult of Isis and devotes himself to her.
  • Subverted in "Eutopia" by Poul Anderson: the protagonist is on the run and only keeps going due to his dreams of his lover Nik, who turns out to be a boy.
  • In Deryni Checkmate,(then) Countess Richenda of Marley is this to Alaric Morgan from the first time he sees her. He dreams of her for months afterward, and is finally introduced to her by Kelson during preparations for the Torenthi campaign in High Deryni. She lampshades this trope just after they share a Mind Link: "Then I have given you that much more to fight for." After their marriage, she also inspires him to fill the gaps in his arcane education, passing on much of her own Eastern-influenced training to him.

Tabletop RPG
  • In Chaosium's Pendragon, knights are expected to form this kind of relationship (called Courtly Love) with an appropriate lady.
  • Warhammer: The Bretonnian knights, being Arthurian knights in France, follow the cult of the Lady, a mystical figure who gives visions and quests, leading to drinking from the Grail. Warhammer being the cheerful and happy place it is, the Lady may or may not be an elaborate hoax pulled off by the Wood Elves to protect their lands.

Theatre
  • In Spamalot, the ethereal, white-clad Lady of the Lake fulfills this role (romantic interest and all) for Arthur. Although, Monty Python being Monty Python, she's a bit less passive and pure than is usual, especially once she decides she's not getting enough screen time.

Video Games

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Any time a woman is on the British throne, expect her to be invoked as this. All the way from Boadicea to Queen Victoria (this was especially prevalent in Queen Vicky's time), and even the current Queen.

Rolling Updates
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • September 25, 2011
    Koveras
    Compare The Lost Lenore.
  • September 25, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • In Chaosium's Pendragon, knights are expected to form this kind of relationship (called Courtly Love) with an appropriate lady.
  • September 25, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • The Lemony Snicket character of A Series Of Unfortunate Events characters is inspired by the death of his beloved Beatrice. And in the last book of the series, so are the Baudelaire children.
  • September 25, 2011
    peccantis
    May be a True Lady.
  • September 25, 2011
    surgoshan
    • This is a standard part of Arthurian Romance. The knight goes on a quest because of a Lady. Also, he has a horse and a sword.
  • September 25, 2011
    Damr1990
  • September 26, 2011
    Nocturna
    @ParadiscaCorbasi: Given your description, I think that example probably belongs in The Lost Lenore, but I don't know enough about the series to say for sure.
  • September 26, 2011
    Gillespie
    In The Golden Ass, the protagonist Lucius, after searching long and hard for a way to reverse his transformation into a donkey, is finally inspired by the Egyptian Goddess Isis. She reveals herself to him in a vision and teaches him the steps to change back into a human. Having fulfilled his tasks, he joins the Cult of Isis and devotes himself to her.
  • September 27, 2011
    Gillespie
    Kisara, the vessel of the White Dragon in YuGiOh. She provides an almost literal light to balance Seto's inner darkness, and her Heroic Sacrifice and death in his arms provides the inspiration for his reign, while she continues to protect him as the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
  • September 27, 2011
    Chabal2
    • Warhammer: the Bretonnian knights, being Arthurian knights in France, follow the cult of the Lady, a mystical figure who gives visions and quests, leading to drinking from the Grail. Warhammer being the cheerful and happy place it is, the Lady may or may not be an elaborate hoax pulled off by the Wood Elves to protect their lands.
    • Some works portray Joan Of Arc as this, inspiring religious devotion in her followers.
  • September 27, 2011
    Nocturna
    ^ What category should I put the Joan Of Arc example in?
  • September 27, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    Real Life, any time a woman is on the British throne, expect her to be invoked as this. All the way from Boadicea to Queen Victoria (this was especially prevalent in Queen Vicky's time) and even the current Queen.
  • September 27, 2011
    Teddroe
    What about "Hero's Muse" or something like that as a name? The trope (at least as I read it) sounds a little like an action oriented version of an artist's muse.
  • September 29, 2011
    arromdee
    Is there some reason to specifically single out female inspirers?
  • September 29, 2011
    TooBah

    Also, Spamalot goes under Theater, not Film.
  • September 29, 2011
    RossN
    Is this Always Female or could a male character fill this role for a heroine?
  • September 29, 2011
    Nocturna
    ^^Oh. Whoops. And can I have a little more information about the Don Juan De Marco example, please?

    ^^^ and ^: At least in older literature, I'm pretty certain this is Always Female. (Like I mentioned, it goes back to the courtly love tradition, where the lady watched and waited while the knight went out and did things.) However, I don't know if it is still Always Female; if male examples that fit the trope can be/are found, I'll make the definition gender neutral.
  • October 1, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    They may have a relationship of Courtly Love. Also I believe this would be a type of Plot Girl (Whenever I get that worked out).
  • October 1, 2011
    jatay3
    Babylon Five: Lennier to Delenn, Cole to Ivanova. Both end sadly in different ways.
  • October 4, 2011
    judasmartel
    Video Games
  • October 4, 2011
    azul120
    • The Kaiba example isn't exactly 100% correct. He uses the BEWD mainly because of its power.
  • October 4, 2011
    Nocturna
    ^ Which example are you referring to?
  • October 5, 2011
    Gillespie
    ^ They're talking about the Yu Gi Oh example. I just copied it from the old page, I'm only sorta familiar with the show but I thought it fit well enough.

    ^^ I figured it was retconned that he used the Blue Eyes White Dragon because of his Egyptian backstory business, not just because it was a strong card over which he obsesses. But like I said, I don't follow the show or comics anymore so maybe I'm wrong.
  • October 5, 2011
    Gillespie
    These three are from the old Shining White Anima page, need some more info on these examples or else they'll get cut.

    • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's Nia maybe, could someone verify this? Says she's a Messiah figure on the character page, but I don't think that's enough.
    • Same with Ah My Goddess's Belldandy, who is a goddess in physical form in a relationship with a mortal guy - she grants him his wish for her to stay with him forever. Eh, I'm not familiar enough.
    • The Avatar The Last Airbender Princess Yue example looks legit.
  • October 5, 2011
    azul120
    It does define his usage to an extent, but mostly, he uses it as part of his beatdown domination strategy full of powerful and rare cards.
  • October 5, 2011
    somerandomdude
    Comment removed
  • October 5, 2011
    PacificState
    Not quite. She's not ethereal at all: according to Word Of God, she and Simon already had had sex by the time the second arc begins. Also, she participates in the fights, gets injured, and generally gets her hands dirty. Plus, she's not a being of enigmatic wisdom, but one of candid innocence. She's a little unreachable, but in the way of an autist savant, not that of a Fair Lady.
  • October 8, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    Helen of Troy inspired an entire nation to move to her rescue.
  • October 8, 2011
    Nocturna
    ^ It has to be more than just inspiring. There has to be a guiding aspect, too.
  • October 10, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I can't remember her name (I think it was "Rei"?), but there was a woman in Trigun that inspired and guided the main character Vash. She's the reason he never kills anyone, no matter how much they deserve it.
  • October 10, 2011
    kjnoren
  • October 10, 2011
    Gillespie
    ^^ Her name was Rem, looks like a good fit. Copied from Trigun's character page: She takes Vash and Knives in as her own children when the crew finds them, and acts as their surrogate mother. She is extremely kind and idealistic, and Vash treats her lessons and worldviews as sacred.
  • October 10, 2011
    LeighSabio
    Compare to Men Act Women Are
  • October 10, 2011
    Nocturna
    Any opinions on names before this gets launched?
  • October 11, 2011
    kjnoren
    Subverted in Eutopia by Poul Anderson: the protagonist is on the run and only keeps going due to his dreams of his lover Nik, who turns out to be a boy.
  • October 11, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    (Then) Countess Richenda of Marley is this to Alaric Morgan from the time he first sees her outside Saint Torin's shrine in Deryni Checkmate. He dreams of her for months afterward, and is finally introduced to her by Kelson during preparations for the Torenthi campaign in High Deryni. She lampshades this trope just after they share a Mind Link (which she initiates to show she is also Deryni): "Then I have given you that much more to fight for." After their marriage, she also inspires him to fill the gaps in his arcane education, passing on much of her own Eastern-influenced training to him.
  • October 11, 2011
    nman

    I don't know why, but I think I worded something oddly, so feel free to edit my entry before putting it in.
  • October 11, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I don't know if Ashley Williams from Mass Effect would count, since isn't she a Fantastic Racist in the series?
  • October 11, 2011
    Nocturna
    And... I just found Lady And Knight. I think that this is sufficiently different to justify being its own trope (as this is any sort of "inspirational lady", whereas that focuses specifically on the (romantic) relationship between a knight and his lady). Opinions?
  • October 13, 2011
    nman
    Just launch it already.
  • October 13, 2011
    donald
    • The soldiers in Mulan discuss the trope in the song A girl worth fighting for.
  • October 13, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I am partial to Hero's Muse for a title or redirect.
  • October 14, 2011
    Nocturna
    I'll launch this as Heros Muse (custome titled to Hero's Muse) within a few days. Anyone have anything they want to say before then?
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