I recently read W. Goldman’s The Princess Bride and started thinking about Bella’s Syndrome. While this Syndrome is very annoying, I also read J. Green’s Looking for Alaska after which broadened my thinking into “Why is the most interesting character almost never the narrator?”
Bella’s Syndrome describes characters who have no hobbies, no skills, nothing interesting except their boyfriend, who has amazing qualities and in reality would not stay with the Bella. It is named after Bella Swan from Twilight, whose outstanding Bellaness raised awareness of this syndrome.
The Princess Bride’s protagonist is Buttercup, a farmer’s daughter who has a mild interest in her horse, named Horse by her and of course, an immeasurable amount of love for Westley.
Westley, is The Perfect Man, funny, clever, swashbuckling, p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Why the hell does he love Buttercup?
In reality, who we love is determined by our brain chemistry, or if you’re more religious, our Significant Other was once a part of us, separated by a vengeful Zeus. The two extremes, usually one quiet the other outgoing, are attracted to each other while those in the middle tend to attract others like themselves.
But this alone cannot account for the differences in literary couples, cannot account for the Bella Syndrome. I say that the rest of the fault lies with authors, who no matter their talents, cannot create multiple living characters.