Miss.Bingley: Pray, what do you think of her [Elizabeth]now, Mr. Darcy?Mr.Darcy: I think she handle a bow and arrow superbly.-- Pride & Prejudice (1940)
I’ve always loved the above scene from Pride & Prejudice. In a scene not from the novel yet could have been, Elizabeth (a too matronly Greer Garson) expertly one-upped Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier) and Miss. Bingley with her marksmanship, both verbal and physical. Elizabeth’s cleverness doesnt deter Mr. Darcy’s admiration one bit as seen from his comment about how Elizabeth handled her “bow and arrow” (i.e. verbal barbs), proving to the audience that he is worthy suitor for her hand.
Considering that traditionally Eros/Cupid (Love) and Artemis/Diana (Chastity) are both seen with a bow & arrow and that the saying “love at first sight” derives from the metaphoric schema of arrows, I have always been surprised that romance authors dont play more upon the archery imagery in their books. Off the top of my head, I can recall less than five examples. Some of my favorites are . . .
In The Love Knot by Elisabeth Fairchild, the hero’s, Miles Fletcher’s, first sight of the heroine Aurora is at an archery competition and he becomes smitten immediately. Though Aurora is a freckled clumsy Amazon, Miles instantly recognizes her as “a goddess sublime”.
In Jackie Ivie’s fascinating Lady of the Knight, it is the Hero who is the Beta to the Heroine’s Alpha. It is the Heroine who is the invincible warrior, peerless in all kinds of weapons, including archery. While the Hero exhorts the softer emotions of love, the Heroine remains unmoved. In fact, one of the first signs that the Hero is getting to the Heroine is when the Hero breaks the Heroine’s relentless concentration while shooting her arrow.
One of the greatest Beta heroes in romance is Jo Beverley’s Francis Haile, Lord Middlethorpe in Forbidden. He is a gentle, sensitive virgin, slight of build, yet he shows his manliness in more subtle way. Throughout the book, he is gallant and a man of honour. And I love the scene when Francis sees all the village boys trying to impress Serena with an impromptu archery contest and marches in and casually hits a bulls-eye, dispersing everyone else away. Mmmmm, Francis.
I need more archery scenes. Anyone else know of some more?