The hero of a Gothic narrative is not a Homeric hero setting out on a lofty quest; he is just a noble young gentleman trying to win the hand of the heroine. His struggle, therefore, tends to be against mysterious adversaries; he often doesn't know what has happened to the heroine, where she is, or even if she is still alive. Still, it is the hero's job to either try to locate and rescue her or pine away in despair in her absence. The trouble is, in Gothic narratives the hero is so weakened by love that he is very nearly rendered incapable of her rescue, such as the case of Emily and Valencourt in Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) .
The relationship of the hero and heroine is always a difficult one. They are annoyingly platonic, carefully treading around the rules of convention to preserve the heroine's modesty and purity. The hero falls in love with the heroine by catching a glimpse of her veiled face in church, like Lorenzo in The Monk, or hearing that she's been promised to a nunnery, like Don D'Axala in Almagro and Claude.
To see some of the more complex Gothic hero types, please refer to:
Courtesy of Wendy Fall, Marquette University
Frank, Frederick S. The First Gothics : A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel . New York : Garland Pub., 1987. Print.
The Affecting History of the Duchess of C**** Who Was Confined Nine Years in a Horrid Dungeon, Under Ground, Where Light Never Entered, a Straw Bed Being Her Only Resting Place, and Bread and Water Her Only Support, Conveyed by Means of a Turning-Box, by Her Inhuman Husband; Whom She Saw but Once During Her Long Imprisonment, Though Suffering by Hunger, Thirst, and Cold, the Most Severe Hardships, But Fortunately She Was at Last Discovered, and Released from the Dungeon, By Her Parents. [Transcript], Stéphanie Félicité Genlis
The Vindictive Monk or The Fatal Ring [Transcript], Isaac Crookenden