Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The role of love in literature

Love in literature has been sometimes a dramatized emotion or sometimes a realistic gradual flow of feelings. Various authors have given their own definition of love. Love, that is known as the most beautiful of all the emotions has been painted sometimes white, sometimes red and at times green in literature. Novels and books leave it to the readers to decide the real definition of love.


Charlotte Bronte's famous heroine Jane Eyre falls in love that is of the idealistic kind. The Bronte sisters themselves were believers in the idealistic kind of love therefore, it reflected in Charlotte Bronte's famous novel. Bronte displays Jane's love as eternally feminine in nature. Jane forgives her master even though he hides his marriage from her. Her love is full of mercy and sincere devotion as she decides to marry a man twice her own age.

Bronte makes her readers aware that "love is mercy" and "love is devotion". Jane's love for her master plays a crucial role in the novel. It also increases as well as decreases the complexities that arise as the novel progresses. In both, serious and humorous works of literature, love has always had a special role to play. George Bernard Shaw's Eliza Doolittle creates humour with her simplicity, ignorance and innocence. Pygmalion is one of the most famous novels. It has a very unusual love story. Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle’s love is unique, surprising and unassuming in nature.


Professor Higgins is a man of perfection, sense and education, someone who has spent most part of his life without the need of a woman; falls for a simple flower girl. His time spent with Eliza during her phonetics training creates attraction towards her innocence and qualities that are totally opposed to his own.

Through this, George Bernard Shaw teaches his readers that “opposites attract”. Two totally opposite people can fall in love and fulfill each other. Love has a touch of humour and love is completion, these are also the messages given by George Bernard Shaw. Becky Sharp and her topsy-turvy as well as tricky love affairs in William Thackeray’s classic Vanity Fair tell us that love is an illusion. Thackeray makes his readers aware that love can be trickery, it can also be poisonous.


Becky Sharp’s love for Rawdon and Joseph are illusions of both men. While Jane Austen makes her readers aware through her most popular classic Pride and Prejudice that love is pure, eternal and spiritual. Elizabeth Bennet initially rejects Mr. Darcy’s proposal due to her prejudice against him. However, gradually as her blindfold opens she recognizes that he is a man of virtue and sensitivity. She is pleased at his capacity to love her unconditionally and generously. Mr. Darcy chooses to fall in love with a woman with no artificiality or vanity, but with a woman of intelligence, sensibility and strong emotions. Both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy learn to respect each other and each other’s loved ones. One more lesson that Pride and Prejudice teaches is that love is to respect. Austen educates her readers through Lydia’s infamous elopement, that lust mistaken for love can bring life long distress and shame.



Austen’s other most famous heroine “Fanny Price” of the Mansfield Park defines love to be thoughtful and intellectual. Fanny’s love of Edmund Bertram who happens to be her uncle’s son develops through long friendship. Fanny and Edmund are alike in most matters. Edmund loves to read and is a spiritual minded person. Fanny is also an ardent reader. Both of them have an artistic taste and love literature. Edmund is appreciative of Fanny’s talents and qualities. But he is unable to trust his own judgment with the clarity and precision shown by Fanny. Fanny easily recognizes Mr. Crawford’s inclination towards her to be lust and not love. She withstands everyone including Sir Thomas’s pressure to marry Mr. Crawford. The author informs through this episode that love is to differentiate between a real oasis and a mirage. Austen further tells her readers that love is compatibility, friendship and meeting of souls.



Love in literature has played many roles, sometimes positive, sometimes passive and on other times highly active. Literature adopts from real life to create characters, perceptions and plots. Therefore, love is undoubtedly the most splendid emotion of our lives and hence, has played significant roles in remarkable literary works.


Helium Rank: 1/7

Author: Nikita Gharat ** Market Place Premier Writer

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