Themes in Writing: The Temptation of Adventure

Wilton_diptych2 The Wilton Diptych, c. 1395–1399

In this series of entries, I’ll discuss some of my favorite themes to read and write about. Hope you enjoy!

The Temptation of Adventure

Mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to this stage of the hero’s journey as the “call to adventure”, but being a romance writer, I decided to go with something a bit more… enticing. The temptation of adventure and what following through with it means for the characters is one of my favorite themes in romance. In fact, it resonates with me so much I chose to use a symbol of the call as the banner for this very blog.

cropped-white-stag.jpg Regal and mysterious, the white hart beckons for the protagonist to follow him into the unknown. 

The white hart, or stag, is commonly found in fairy tales and legends as a magical figure representing what hides just beyond the world you know, if you’re brave enough to heed the call. The story goes, King Arthur was on a hunt when he and his knights witnessed the majestic creature, and decided its presence signified the time for a quest had come. In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a white stag is said to have the power to grant wishes to whomever is able to catch him. More recently, it can be argued that Harry Potter’s introduction to Patronuses was a callback to the idea of the ethereal, otherworldly white deer.

Giving into the temptation of adventure has the potential for great rewards, but often comes at great sacrifice. The main character, armed with newfound knowledge of the supernatural and everything that comes with it, often finds him or herself in strange and dangerous situations the uninitiated never would. The hero or heroine must ask themselves, is it worth it? Should I heed the call?

And when the answer is yes, that’s when the real fun begins.

What are some of your favorite books featuring this theme? 

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