And thy name is like a prayer
An angel whispers... Dulcinea... Dulcinea!"
In some works, a hero, possibly a Knight in Shining Armor, falls in love with a woman based solely on his perceived image of her as so perfect that he could never actually be together with her. Some knights had, indeed, fallen in love with the princess owing to hearing descriptions of her, without seeing her.
If there are class distinctions, she is of a higher societal rank than he is. She usually comes from a wealthy family, and an old family, and is treated as if she's the World's Most Beautiful Woman, which might give her Attractiveness Isolation. To top it all off, even if she is spoiled she's actually a genuinely worthwhile lady. The hero is generally determined to fight to prove his worthiness of her, or to defend her honor or reputation, thus becoming The Champion to her.
One literary term for this type of character—the girl who is too perfect to be obtained—is the princesse lointaine.note
The story is just as likely to be contemporary as historical.
- Kannazuki no Miko has a lesbian example. Chikane is such a perfect girl that even having the courage to propose to her elevates you above the other students. The main character, Himeko, is absolutely smitten by her and believes that she's living the dream when (due to one thing and another) she begins living with her. Deconstructed — crazy things happen and in the end, Chikane is revealed to be neither angel nor devil, just a girl the same age as Himeko. There's no such thing as a peerless lover.
- Maken-ki!: Usui falls for Himegami, who's considered to be one of the hottest girls at Tenbi Academy. Which made his chances of hooking up with her seem unlikely to begin with; becoming much less likely once he and the others learn she's the daughter of Yamato no Orochi. Meaning, she's both royalty and a demi-goddess! But she subverts it near the end of chapter 65, when she tells him she's not above him and finally provides him with a faint glimmer of hope.
- Griffith from Berserk has shades of this, being not only a Father to His Men but an incredibly beautiful man in an otherwise gritty setting. His lieutenants Guts and Casca are both implied to have feelings for him but see him as too perfect to approach, and end up falling for each other instead. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Griffith's feelings for his lieutenants. When Guts overhears Griffith claim that his only friends are those he sees as equals, he temporarily quits Griffith's service and leaves on a journey to find himself; to say Griffith takes this poorly would be a massive understatement.
- Shimoneta: Initially, Anna is perceived to be the perfect girl and a model student by her peers and Tanukichi, who secretly nursed a crush on her. That changes after a single accidental kiss awakens her long repressed hormones, causing Anna to become a horny, nigh unstoppable stalker. It shatters Tanukichi's ideal image of her and leaves him terrified.
- In A Knight's Tale the peasant William falls in love with the noble lady Jocelyn.
William: Geoff, 'tis my lady.Geoffrey: Oh, geez, William, you aim too high.William: Oh, if there's another way to aim, I don't know it.
- For her part, she seems used to this reaction from young knights and doesn't really respond to his advances with anything but amusement bordering on annoyance until he stops treating her like an ideal by actually listening to her and trying to get to know her as a person.
- In Titanic (1997), Jack is told "Ah, forget it, boyo. You're as like to have angels fly out your arse as get next to the likes of her."
- Dianne Court from Say Anything.... Since she's beautiful and the valedictorian, everyone assumes that she's completely unapproachable. When Lloyd Dobler asks her out and she accepts, everyone is astonished, especially Lloyd himself.
- Played with and/or deconstructed over the course of the original Star Wars trilogy, vis a vis Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. In the very first film (Episode IV: A New Hope), the pirate mercenary Han, after a heated argument with the recently rescued princess/senator/revolutionary, nevertheless admits feelings for her, and begins to ask farm boy main protagonist Luke Skywalker (who also has romantic designs on her) "You think a princess and a guy like me..." only to be cut off with a very curt and blunt "no". Han and Leia, of course, become romantically entangled over the course of the later movies, and eventually marry.
- In the Chivalric Romance The Earl of Toulos, the earl falls in love with his enemy's wife and sneaks into his lands to catch a glimpse of her. Then he withdraws until she is accused of adultery, whereupon he goes in disguise to act as her champion and clear her name. (Some variants have an ending tacked on where she is widowed and they marry.)
- In another Chivalric Romance, Sir Degravant, Degravant, persecuted by his neighbor, falls in love with the man's daughter and risks himself on a venture to his enemy's lands, where he catches a glimpse of her and has to fight free. Later he wins The Tourney in which her hand is the prize.
- The Kharkanas Trilogy:
- Invoked with Lady Hish Tulla, who is one for both Anomander Rake and Silchas Ruin. They consider her the World's Most Beautiful Woman and thus, even though both have scored first base before, they still see her as unreachable and virtuous and only to be worshiped from afar.
- Dragged through the mud and deconstructed with Enesdia. Her betrothed Andarist has delusions about her Incorruptible Pure Pureness. Her brother Kadaspala has an unhealthy obsession — though not of a romantic nature — with how pure and virtuous she is and considers her impending marriage to be detrimental to those qualities. Others consider her vain and spoiled. She is none of these extremes, and the only one who sees that, Cryl Durav, thinks she only considers him her adopted brother and is unreachable for him for other reasons.
- Lyanna Stark to Robert Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire, to the point that he fought in a rebellion (partly) in order to rescue her. After Lyanna died, Robert became a broken man, bitter over having to marry someone else. When Robert grumbles that Lyanna would have let him do what he wanted to if he had married her, Ned (Lyanna's brother) comments that Robert only saw Lyanna's beauty, not her personality.
- Essentially how Dan Humphrey falls in love with Serena van der Woodsen on Gossip Girl. Many of their problems as a couple arise from the fact that she can't possibly live up to the image of her he's created in his mind.
- "She's So High" by Tal Bachman is all about this:
She's so high
High above me, she's so lovely
She's so high
Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite
- This happens all the time in the Pendragon game. The rules actually force knights to fall in love with (develop a Passion/Amor for) women, usually higher class noblewomen of the setting. One of the most common targets was Queen Guenever (sic).
- In La Princesse Lointaine (written by Edmond Rostand prior to the more famous Cyrano de Bergerac), a knight falls in love with a princess solely from hearing a description of her beauty and virtues. The play is based on the story of the troubadour Joffrey Rudel and his love for the Countess of Tripoli.
- Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha is too perfect to be real (which is why it's not really a surprise when it turns out she isn't). She is Don Quixote's Hero's Muse and a winsome twist of his Horrible Judge of Character ways — the wretched Aldonza, hearing herself called Dulcinea, is eventually inspired to try to live up to it.
- In Love Plus, Manaka is seen as this by the other students due to her great grades, beautiful looks, amazing tennis skills, high-standing family, and overly-polite behaviour. For this reason, no-one really tries to get close to her, causing her some deal of angst and social awkwardness as she isn't sure how to make genuine friends. One background character even says at one point that it's like she lives in a totally different world to everyone else.
- Most Tokimeki Memorial games, including the Girls' Side series, have as the main love interest a seemingly perfect character who is beautiful, athletic, intelligent, beloved by the school populace, and easily the most difficult character to win over.
- Kotonoha Katsura from School Days starts as this. The guys at her school either look at her from afar or ogle her Gag Boobs without actually asking her for a date, since not only she's considered to be beautiful and smart but also comes from a millionaire family. (In the meantime, almost all the girls either ignore or bully her out of jealousy and envy.) Makoto Itou is the first guy who ever asks her out, and he himself had also been also liking her from afar at first.
- Sandra on the Rocks: As far as Lavali's concerned, she has no hope of ever being with Eva, even though she hit on Lavali and gave her her phone number. This is the reason she said she couldn't muster the nerve to call her:
Lavali: (to Sandra and Aina) "She's out of my league. She makes perfect 10's weep tears of despair, from the knowledge they'll never be as hot as her."
- This was Ralph Hayes, Jr.'s intention for Lily in Under the Lemon Tree. Didn't work. Utterly forgotten by Goblin Hollow.
- In Oglaf, a young woman who wishes for beauty turns into a Gaussian Girl who is also this — too beautiful for any man to dare court her.