I’m reading a Victorian novel right now (I’ll post a review when I’m done because it’s one of the novels on my Classics list) and there is something very surprising that I found in it: one character really loves another character.
The reason why this is so surprising is that it made me realize that I can’t really remember any other fictional description of love. I have read thousands of novels, but this is pretty much the first convincing rendering of love.
When I say “love”, I don’t mean, of course, the following famous plots that have been sold to us by writers in lieu of depictions of love:
- I’ve seen you at a distance and have realized that it would be super cool to use you to bug my parents as part of my teenage rebellion. Better yet, why not kill myself altogether? That will stick it to the old folks.
- I’ve always considered him to be rude and obnoxious but then I saw his huge house and realized he is extremely rich. Now I totally love him.
- Every single aspect of his personality and every moment of his past annoy me. But if I could have him mutilated, helpless and completely at my mercy, then I’d totally enjoy living with him.
- I find you provincial, facile, and boring. But after you marry a rich guy and get some fashionable clothes, I realize that now I’m totally into you.
Cervantes ridiculed the way love is usually depicted in novels by showing how Don Quixote denies everything that constitutes the personality of the real Aldonza Lorenzo. He creates an imaginary creature called Dulcinea and adores her. Unlike a real person, Dulcinea is perfect, so it’s easy to worship her. And when she stinks of garlic, it can always be attributed to the spell created by mean magicians.
More often than not, we see characters in fiction loving not so much an actual person, but a concept, an image that might or might not have anything to do with any real human being. This is why I was so surprised to find a fictional character who seems to be capable of actually feeling love.
Am I mistaken about the paucity of depictions of love in literature? Can you think of characters in love whose feelings rang true to you?