Created By: Melkior on July 8, 2013 Last Edited By: Melkior on July 21, 2013
Troped

Compete for the Maiden's Hand

Two or more suitors formally compete for the right to either marry or court a potential spouse

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
This trope is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Two or more people wish to either court/woo or outright marry another, but perhaps the target of their affections isn't sure who to choose, or perhaps the suitors discover their rivalry and decide to compete to see who will drop out of the running (whether with or without the knowledge or approval of the maiden).

This trope only applies if one suitor challenges at least one other suitor to the contest. If the contest is imposed by a third party, such as by the maiden's father or by the maiden herself, then the example belongs in Engagement Challenge.

Despite the name, this trope applies equally to both males competing for the affections of a female and females competing for the affections of a male. It also applies to same-sex relationships. The trope name was chosen only because it's the most well known version of the trope.

Related to Engagement Challenge and can be a Secret Test of Character, or not so secret test of character.

Can lead to Murder the Hypotenuse if one of the suitors doesn't accept the contest or doesn't like the outcome.

Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • In ElfQuest, Rayek challenges Cutter to The Trial of Head, Hand and Heart with the winner of all three trials having the unchallenged right to "woo" Leetah.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • More than one episode of The Goodies spoofed the trope by having "an anonymous Queen" offer the hand in marriage of her eldest son to whoever accomplished some great task.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Declare, Philby and Hale play a poker game for Elena. Their first game on Mount Ararat is interrupted, but their second one in Moscow leaves Hale the winner. Philby wins the immortality elixir, but it doesn't bring him happiness the way being with Elena brought it to Hale.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Arcanum's backstory has a duel between Garrick Stout and Adkin Chambers over who had the right to court Lady Druella. Stout won, but dishonorably gouged out Chamber's eyes after the latter had admitted defeat, causing Druella to hate him and refuse his advances.
  • AdventureQuest Worlds has the King's Tournament for the 2013 Heroes' Heart Day event. The winner of the tournament becomes Swordhaven's War General and wins the right to court Princess Brittany, the oldest of the Princesses of Swordhaven. Your character fights in the place of Lord Brentan, probably the most suitable candidate for both major conditions, after he is treacherously struck down by Sir Roderick of Grimreaver, who seeks to win the Tournament at any cost in order to seize the throne of Swordhaven from King Alteon.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • All-Star Superman turns this into an almost three-way when Superman has to compete against the time-travelling duo of Atlas and Samson in a contest of feats for Lois' hand after she flirts with them. They eventually settle this with a double arm-wrestling contest.
  • The Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Rival Returns has his rival Mortimer Mouse challenge him to one-on-one beach volleyball for the right to date Minnie. Surprisingly, Mortimer wins. He blows his chance, natch.
  • In the Daffy Duck short Muscle Tussle, Daffy's girlfriend is wooed by a beach strongman; Daffy tries to prove he is the other guy's better but fails.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • July 8, 2013
    Astaroth
  • July 8, 2013
    Koveras
    • In Declare, Philby and Hale play a poker game for Elena. Their first game on Mount Ararat is interrupted, but their second one in Moscow leaves Hale the winner. Philby wins the immortality elixir, but it doesn't bring him happiness the way being with Elena brought it to Hale.
  • July 8, 2013
    MrRuano
    All Star Superman turns this into an almost three-way when Superman has to compete against the time-travelling duo of Atlas and Samson in a contest of feats for Lois' hand after she flirts with them. They eventually settle this with a double arm-wrestling contest.
  • July 8, 2013
    Duncan
    In The Merchant Of Venice Portia's father sets up an Engagement Challenge, which is a Secret Test Of Character- each of her suitors has to choose from a gold, a silver, or a lead cask. One holds Portia's portrait, the others have mocking poems.
  • July 8, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^But the suitors don't compete with each other AIR, do they? We just see three suitors come, individually, over the course of the play; two choose the wrong boxes and one chooses right.
  • July 8, 2013
    Melkior
    ^ You may be right. I'll consider removing that as a non-example. I think it's on the other pages mentioned anyway.
  • July 8, 2013
    Duncan
    ^^ Ah, quite right.
  • July 9, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • One Mickey Mouse cartoon has his rival Mortimer Mouse challenge him to one-on-one beach volleyball for the right to date Minnie. Surprisingly, Mortimer wins. He blows his chance, natch.
  • July 9, 2013
    Melkior
    I found the cartoon name and added it to the description.
  • July 9, 2013
    XFllo
    Regarding Portia and The Merchant Of Venice -- why would this have to be literal fight? People can compete in various stuff.

    There are many examples from fairy tales. I'll try to add something later when I have more time.
  • July 9, 2013
    randomsurfer
    I'm not saying it has to be a literal fight, but I'm not seeing a competition of any kind between suitors in Merchant. Three individual suitors, individually trying to win the hand of Portia, isn't any kind of competition amongst each other IMO. They don't even see each other.

    If you can show me as wrong, I'll happily admit to it.
  • July 9, 2013
    Melkior
    I believe that the Merchant example isn't this trope. The suitors are competing against Portia's father, not against each other. That's why I removed it as an example.
  • July 9, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Good research, Melkior. Take my hat as your prize. :)
  • July 9, 2013
    JoeG
    The contest is often organized by the maiden's father, over her strong objections. There are two common situations when this happens:

    1) The maiden favors one particular suitor and will do everything in her power to help him win.

    2) The maiden objects to being treated as a prize in a contest, and will try to arrange it so that nobody wins. She might go so far as disguising herself and competing for her own hand.
  • July 9, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    • Pixar's brave has this plot point. Princess Merdia's suitors shoot arrows for her hand. Merdia is thoroughly unimpressed with all of them and decides to shoot for her own hand.
  • July 9, 2013
    Astaroth
    Would Murder The Hypotenuse be a related trope? Also which Older Than... page would apply to the Canterbury Tales?

    • The Knight's Tale from The Canterbury Tales focuses on two heroes, Arcite and Palamon, who both end up falling for Emily, and ends with a tournament organised by Emily's brother-in-law, Theseus, to decide which of the pair will have the right to marry her.
  • July 10, 2013
    XFllo
    It's been a while since I read The Merchant, but I believe some of the suitors met and they snarked about the others. (Isn't there a part when they make fun of national stereotypes?) Yes, they compete against Portia's father, but also against each other. If you think this is too different, at least make it clear in the definition. Don't forget that Tropes Are Flexible, though, and can be applied and used in various ways.
  • July 10, 2013
    Melkior
    ^^ I think the contest can lead to Murder The Hypotenuse if one of the suitors doesn't accept either the contest or the outcome.

    It seems I need to expand the description. The idea is that this trope applies when at least one of the suitors arranges the contest, but perhaps it should be expanded to include a contest arranged by someone else.

    I don't want the trope to be too broad but I'm wondering where the cutoff should be. I'm not sure that the trope should or could reasonably cover all contests where the outcome determines who gets to woo or marry the "maiden".
  • July 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Daffy Duck short Muscle Tussle Daffy's girlfriend is wooed by a beach strongman; Daffy tries to prove he is the other guy's better but fails.
  • July 18, 2013
    Melkior
    I've clarified the difference between this trope and Engagement Challenge. I'll be launching this trope soon but I would like more hats first, if others agree that it's ready for launch.
  • July 18, 2013
    Luc
    Sid Meiers Pirates has this, as a possible mission in the way of getting a wife.
  • July 18, 2013
    Melkior
    ^ That sounds more like Engagement Challenge, unless a NPC challenges you to a duel for the right to wed a particular woman.

    I've added a potential page image as well. I'll format it on the right when I launch the page. The YKTTW page can't format pictures correctly.
  • July 18, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    Adventure Quest Worlds has the King's Tournament for the 2013 Heroes' Heart Day event. The winner of the tournament becomes Swordhaven's War General and wins the right to court Princess Brittany, the oldest of the Princesses of Swordhaven. Your character fights in the place of Lord Brentan, probably the most suitable candidate for both major conditions, after he is treacherously struck down by Sir Roderick of Grimreaver, who seeks to win the Tournament at any cost in order to seize the throne of Swordhaven from King Alteon.
  • July 21, 2013
    Melkior
    I'm about to launch this trope. Hats please? Any dispute that it's tropable or about the description?
  • July 21, 2013
    AgentLetrush
    Video Games
    • In Castle Crashers' multiplayer campaign, after the players rescue a princess, they fight, with the winner kissing the princess.

    EDIT: Doesn't count, as neither player (or character) challenges the other.
  • July 21, 2013
    Melkior
    ^ But is that part of a formal challenge by at least one player, or is it forced by the game mechanic? It may be this trope even if it's forced by the game, if the game presents it as a challenge by at least one player toward the other(s).
  • July 21, 2013
    AgentLetrush
    Good point. Sorry, I didn't read the description enough; it's presented as a spontaneous fight.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=mkx99mmjculxne3q3h11au5r&trope=CompeteForTheMaidensHand