Before I talk about the characters who deserve to be mentioned in this list, I want to talk about love. I think people tend to say love when they mean like, or when they feel affection. More commonly, I believe many people confuse love with lust, infatuation and obsession.
George Knightley and Emma Woodhouse
What is love?
A while ago, I wrote a post called Types of Love where I explained how psychologist, Robert Sternberg developed the Triangular Theory of Love. The theory is based on three components your relationship can possess and defines the type of love you will share with another person.
The three components are:
- Intimacy: This includes feelings of attachment, closeness, trust, and connectedness. Your partner could feel like your best friend. Do you laugh and have fun together?
- Passion: This includes the sexual attraction or the physical connection between two people.
- Commitment: This includes the decision to stay together, no matter what, and to make plans for the future together.
A relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or three elements. The combinations of various elements can include: liking, companiate love, empty love, fatuous love, infatuation, and romantic love. The ultimate love is the marriage of all three, which he defines as consummate love.
For the purpose of this list I am going to choose literary couples I believe have this consummate love. They share intimacy, passion and commitment. They are the lucky few.
12 Literary Love Matches
Hazel Grace and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars
- Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms
- Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
- EmmaWoodhouse and Mr Knightley from Emma
- Westley and Buttercup from The Princess Bride
Henry and Clare from The Time Traveler’s Wife
- Bartholomew and the Girlbrarian from The Good Luck of Right Now
- Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton from The Notebook
- Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing
- Jamie and Claire from The Outlander Series
- Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy
Ruth Jamison And Idgie Threadgoode from Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe
I think it’s disturbing that stories such as Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, and Gone with the Wind are classified as great love stories. At best they are tragic dramas or adolescent fantasies about infatuations and obsessions that are unhealthy and destructive. They are also based on deception, childish behaviour and cruelty.
Don’t get me wrong. They make great stories – just not love stories. Perhaps the fact that they are classified like this reveals why so many people look for ‘love’ in all the wrong places.
Who are your favourite literary lovers?
If you enjoyed this post, read
- Universal Needs – Creating Characters
- Types of Love
- Six Lessons We’ve Learnt From Jane Austen – on love, life and writing
- The Top 12 Literary Love Quotes
- 25 Famous Literary Couples