The hooker with a heart of gold (also the whore with a heart of gold[1] or the tart with a heart) is a stock character involving a prostitute with a hidden integrity and kindness.


This character is often a pivotal, but peripheral, character in literature and motion pictures, usually giving key advice or serving as a go-between. She is sometimes established in contrast to another female character who is morally perfect but frigid or otherwise unyielding. Hookers with hearts of gold are sometimes reluctant prostitutes selling their bodies due to either desperation or coercion from a pimp. The stereotype might owe something of a debt to certain traditions surrounding the Biblical figures of Mary Magdalene and Rahab, or to the ancient Indian theatrical tradition of Sanskrit drama where Śudraka's play Mṛcchakatika (The Little Clay Cart) featured a nagarvadhu (courtesan) with a heart of gold named Vasantasena.[2] But this stock character is pervasive enough in various myths and cultures in the form of a tragic story of the concubine who falls in love with her patron/client or, alternatively, young and often poor lover. Therefore, this might be considered not just an archetype but also fairly universal, and somewhat indicative of various societies' complex ideas about sexual decency and moral character. A variation on the theme, the dancer (stripper) with a heart of gold, is a tamer version of the character.

In opera and musical theater, a hooker with a heart of gold is most often portrayed by a mezzo-soprano. (One notable exception is the heroine of Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata, Violetta Valery, portrayed by a soprano.) She is portrayed in a tragic light and often dies a tragic death.

In television history, the "tart with a heart" has become an important archetype in serial drama and soap opera, especially in Britain. During the 1960s, the character of Elsie Tanner in British series Coronation Street set the mold for future characters such as Bet Lynch (also Coronation Street) and Kat Slater (EastEnders). Characters of this nature are often depicted as having tragic lives, but put on a front when in public to create the illusion of happiness. More often than not, these female characters are vital to their respective shows, and inevitably become some of the biggest stars in British Television.[citation needed]

The hooker with a heart of gold is also a prominent character in many American western movies. In The Usual Suspects, detective Dave Kujan says to Roger "Verbal" Kint: " don't sell me the hooker with a heart of gold."


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References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ebert, Roger (1972-12-15). "Man of La Mancha". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "The only performance that really survives the movie is Sophia Loren's.... She has kind of a thankless role (they've cast her as the whore with the heart of gold again)...." 
  2. Pauwels, Heidi Rika Maria (2008). Indian Literature and Popular Cinema. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 0-415-44741-0. 
  3. Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth (Fall 1981). "Scarlett O'Hara: The Southern Lady as New Woman". American Quarterly 33 (4): 391–411. doi:10.2307/2712525. JSTOR 2712525. "Belle Watling, to be sure, is not a lady, but the classic whore with a heart of gold, a shrewd and successful business woman in her own right, has a far deeper sense than Scarlett of the essential qualities that informed true ladyhood." 
  4. Nava, David (2004). "Othello, the Moor of Venice: Message from the director". The American Shakespeare Project. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Bianca, the "heart of gold" courtesan, deludes herself into believing that she can escape outsider status by an alliance with Cassio...."  Template loop detected: Template:Fix/category[dead link]
  5. Pradhan, Vidya (2008-01-21). "Heart of gold, speckled with sin". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Starting with Chandramukhi in Devdas, the commercial sex worker in Hindi movies has usually been depicted with a heart of gold, forced into her profession by circumstances beyond her control." 
  6. Associated Press (2006-02-27). "Molly Ringwald to take 'Sweet Charity' on the road this fall". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Molly Ringwald will portray Charity Hope Valentine, the dance-hall hostess with the heart of gold, when Sweet Charity goes out on the road this fall." 
  7. Welky, David B. (2002). "Stagecoach". St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture (Gale Group). Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Dallas (Clare Trevor), the prostitute with a heart of gold...." 
  8. Sullivan, Catey (2005-03-09). "Theater: Sweet Charity". Windy City Times (Chicago). Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Ah, the hooker with the heart of gold. It’s a conceit that dates from Mary Magdalene to All My Children’s Donna Beck and beyond." 
  9. Daly, Sean (April 9–15, 2004). "The Girl Next Door". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Naturally, the budding porno princess with the heart of gold falls for nice guy Matthew—as he falls into her sin-soaked world and jeopardizes his button-down future." 
  10. Wilonsky, Robert (2005-03-31). "Color Bind". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "...the blood-red bed on which hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Goldie (Jaime King) gives herself to psycho killer Marv (Mickey Rourke)...." 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Ghose, Anindita (August 2006). "Of Names of Women in Hindi Cinema: An Exploration in Semantics". e-Social Sciences. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-04-02. "In ‘Pyasa’ (1957) the prostitute who is pitted against the lead woman is called Gulabo. Similarly, in ‘Pakeezah’( 1971) the heart of gold metaphor is put forth in the name, which literally means ‘pure heart’." 
  12. Trillin, Calvin (2005-09-05). "Letter from Ecuador: Speaking of Soup". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "That led, not unexpectedly, to my mentioning the noted Mexican actress Katy Jurado, who, of course, appeared in 'High Noon,' playing the role of what I think could be fairly described as `la puta con un corazón de oro.′" 
  13. Gallo, Bill (1995-11-08). "In Her Genes". Westword (Denver). Retrieved 2008-05-26. "The whore with a heart of gold and the punchy fighter with a rosin bag for a brain are not exactly new movie types—not even for that high Manhattan intellect Woody Allen."  Template loop detected: Template:Fix/category[dead link]
  14. Leib, Mark (2005-05-25). "The Half of It". Creative Loafing (Tampa). Retrieved 2008-05-26. "He terrorizes London and confuses his friend John Utterson and his consort Lucy Harris (the prostitute with a - you guessed it - heart of gold)." 
  15. "Loving Luenell: one on one with Borat's leading lady.(The Great Entertainers)". Curve. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "In addition to a multiple-decade career in film, theater and stand-up, Luenell is best known for her recent appearance as the hooker with a heart of gold (also named Luenell) in Sasha Baron Cohen's 2006 controversial mockumentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." 
  16. Garner, Dwight (1997-09-19). "Too Little, Too Noir". Salon. Archived from the original on 2000-04-16. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a languidly glamorous hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who resembles Veronica Lake...." 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Chopra, Anupama (April 2, 2001). "The Courtesan Club". India Today. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  18. Johnson, Katie N. (2006) (pdf). Sisters in Sin: Brothel Drama in America, 1900-1920. Cambridge University Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 0-521-85505-5. "From the middle of the nineteenth century, no other character epitomized the demise of the goodhearted fallen woman better than Marguerite of La Dame aux Camélias, popularly known in the United States as Camille.... Camille soon became the iconic hooker with-a-heart-of-gold whose story would seduce audiences every Broadway season." 
  19. Morris, Virginia B. (1985). Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. Barron's Book Notes. Woodbury, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series. pp. 14. ISBN 0-7641-9161-6. "For many readers, Nancy is the most important character in the novel.... In contrast, other readers insist that she is just a cliché – the typical prostitute with a heart of gold." 
  20. Thomas, Colin (2007-11-29). "Oliver!". Georgia Straight (Vancouver). Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Nancy, the whore with the requisite heart of gold...." 
  21. Clark, Mike (2005-04-03). "Flesh, fantasy run rampant in 'Sin City'". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Jessica Alba plays Nancy Callahan, a stripper with a heart of gold in Sin City." 
  22. Ghose, Anindita (August 2006). "Of Names of Women in Hindi Cinema: An Exploration in Semantics". e-Social Sciences. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-04-02. "The names of these fallen woman are generally indexical of physical attributes while the lead women rarely have names which have overtly physical connotations. In ‘Amar Prem’ (1971), Sharmila Tagore who is a prostitute is called ‘Pushpa” which means ‘flower’." 
  23. Queenan, Joe (2001-09-01). "French kiss-off". The Guardian.,,545100,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Satine, the enigmatic hooker with a heart of gold, is obviously quite fond of the earnest but not terribly bright Christian." 
  24. Maslin, Janet (1995-10-27). "Lurching Through a Life Of Alcoholic Abandon". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "Ms. Shue gives a daring and affecting performance, but she's essentially playing one more whore with a heart of gold." 
  25. Wieland, Christina (2000). The Undead Mother: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Masculinity, Femininity, and Matricide. London: Karnac. pp. 229. ISBN 1-85575-913-6. "It is in the person of Sonya, a young prostitute with a heart of gold – the 'Holy Sinner,' one might say – that Dostoyevsky glimpses the essential goodness, a goodness beyond the morality of a paternal super-ego, which will act as a good external object." 
  26. Macdonald, Moira (2004-12-03). "The skinny: "Machinist" is daring, haunting experiment". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "'If you were any thinner,' says his call-girl girlfriend, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh, playing a scratchy-voiced whore with a heart of gold), 'you wouldn't exist.'" 
  27. "It's Suzie Wong Doing the Town". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. G70. 1960-05-22. "'Suzie' concerns the life, loves, and woes of the proverbial tart with the heart of gold, the variation being that this one is Chinese." 
  28. Hagedorn, Jessica (January/February 1994). "Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck". Ms.. "Suzie and all the other prostitutes in this movie are cute, giggling, dancing sex machines with hearts of gold."  Reprinted in Shirley Biagi & Marilyn Kern-Foxworth, Facing Difference: Race, Gender and Mass Media. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press, 1997. Pp. 32, 33.
  29. Allende, Isabel (2003). My Invented Country: A Memoir. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. New York: Perennial. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0-06-054567-4. "Even though I don't consider myself an expert on the subject, I am not innocent of creating a whore with a heart of gold; mine, from my first novel, is named Tránsito Soto." 
  30. Baumgarten, Marjorie (1994-09-02). "Milk Money". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-05-26. "The movie takes a recurrent narrative theme – the hooker with a heart of gold – and mixes it up with a suburban setting and a bunch of adolescent boys, one of whom, Frank (Carter), decides that this prostitute named V (Griffith) would make a perfect mate for his widowed dad (Harris)." 
  31. Pauwels, Heidi Rika Maria (2008). Indian Literature and Popular Cinema. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 0-415-44741-0. "Vasantasena ... is the courtesan with a heart of gold, as she is genuinely in love with the hero even though he has lost his wealth." 
  32. Lidov, David (2005). Is Language a Music? Writings on Musical Form and Signification. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 165. ISBN 0-253-34383-6. "To go back to the root, this is the story of a prostitute with a heart of gold...." 
  33. Orr, John (1998). Contemporary Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 211. ISBN 0-7486-0836-2. 
  34. Gibbs Van Brunschot, Erin (2003). "Community Policing and John Schools". Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 40 (2): 215–32. doi:10.1111/j.1755-618X.2003.tb00244.x.;jsessionid=L6hFhr64QkhPhVw3gcBf8GZv0LnfjsnTNJd8Cp2sFC24hCyDTcWG!338704384?docId=5001957098. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 

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