Chapter 1 - Mimetic Modes
Northrop Frye's theory of modes provides a framework within which to discuss the novels' "combination of fantasy and reality" (Paizis 176). Harlequin Mills & Boon romances span almost the entire spectrum of Northrop Frye's fictional modes, from paranormal romances in the 'romance' mode, through to novels in the ironic mode which resemble chick lit. Far from being uniformly escapist fantasies, many of them have addressed serious issues, including the plight of post-Second World War refugees, threats to marine mammals, and HIV/AIDS.
Chapter 2 - Mythoi
A mythos is "a traditional or recurrent narrative theme or plot structure" (Oxford Dictionaries) and an analysis of some of the mythoi which appear in romances therefore provides an opportunity to explore how different HM&B authors have adapted traditional plots, including the Pygmalion myth, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
Chapter 3 - Metafiction
A metafiction is a piece of "fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality" (Waugh 2). Many romances include metafictional moments, in part because "The attack on romances from all perspectives has been so pervasive that Harlequin writers have felt compelled to address the issue of stigmatized popular culture in their fiction" (Jensen 26). One Mills & Boon from the 1930s, for example, can be read as a contribution to the "battle of the brows." Some romances subtly claim kinship with canonical texts, including Boccaccio's Decameron, Shakespeare's comedies, and the works of Jane Austen. Others draw on, and occasionally draw attention to their similarities to, works of popular culture, including romantic comedies, soap operas and gothic romances.
Chapter 4 - Metaphors
Successful use of metaphors requires the achievement of a balance between "the collective and the individual" (Paizis 176) : "great poets, as master craftsmen, use basically the same tools we use; what makes them different is their talent for using these tools, and their skill in using them" (Lakoff and Turner xi). This chapter focuses on the building of relationships, the flowering of romance and the hunt of love and concludes with a case study, a romance which brings together metaphors of travelling, weaving, and the treatment of the body politic.
Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. 1957. Oxford: Princeton UP, 2000.
Jensen, Margaret Ann. Love’s $weet Return: The Harlequin Story. Toronto: Women’s Educational P, 1984.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Turner. More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: U of Chicago P., 1989.
Paizis, George. Love and the Novel: The Poetics and Politics of Romantic Fiction. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998.
Waugh, Patricia. Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. 1984. London: Routledge, 1988.