Tweet of the Day: A Yorkshire Woman In London: Charlotte Brontë
“It’s not me, it’s my enemies.”
This trope is exactly what it says on the tin: a woman in danger in need of rescue. Bonus points if the damsel in question is a) rescued by the Hero and b) falls in love because of the rescue/was already the heroes love interest. A trope so old it exhibit in the dead horse trope gallery at the TV Tropes museum of antique tropes. That is not to say that this trope is dead, far from it. It has been kept alive by a variety of ways (most linked to on the tropes page). Among them is to make the distress party not a damsel but a young child, which simply reinforces the infatalization of women.
The problem with this trope is not the implausibility of a woman being in distress and therefore needing assistance of some sort, it is that the damsel in question is just an object to be acquired by the hero. At no moment does she show initiative, foresight or agency about her status/fate. It also reinforces the idea of women as victims. A common work around is to show that this was a one-of, have the damsel rescue herself (or be in the process of doing so) or prove that once rescued she can pull her own weight (like Princess Leia in the original Star Wars).
This is one of those tropes that most be labelled, “Handle with Care.”
Yes, I know….