Most of the greatest works of literature deal with love in some shape or form, so there are many whose relationships have touched readers all over the world. Through tragedy and joy, make up and break up, sex, murder and sickness and comedy and laughter, who can resist a great love story? Here are 8 great literary lovers who’ve left their indelible mark on the incurable romantic:
There is some debate as to whether Romeo and Juliet’s story is one of true love or of simple teenage lust but, either way, Romeo and Juliet are ultimately great literary lovers. The play shows the power that true love can have as well as the dangerous nature of love, which is why it was one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and why it remains so today.
Cathy and Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights are childhood friends who develop a deep affection for one another. When Cathy gives in to social expectations and marries Edgar Linton, Heathcliff runs away, only to return as a rich gentleman and exact revenge for his sufferings.
Jane Austen’s brilliant creations are two of the best-known characters of English literature. Elizabeth must overcome her initial prejudices against Darcy to see the goodness of his character, while as readers we can see that the pair are an ideal match and face an agonizing wait for them to finally get together.
Charlotte Brontë's novel depicts the love between orphan Jane Eyre and her wealthy employer, Edward Rochester. During their wedding ceremony, Jane discovers that Rochester is already married – to an insane woman who he was apparently tricked into marrying. When Rochester's wife commits suicide, he and Jane are finally reunited and even begin a family, showing the strength of their love.
The adventures of legendary English hero Robin Hood were first told in Medieval ballads and are more recently the subject of films, television programs and even cartoons. Maid Marian is portrayed differently in the many varying Robin Hood stories, but she is always shown as Robin Hood’s true love, making them truly great literary lovers.
Tarzan is a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the novel Tarzan of the Apes and its many sequels. He is an infant from an aristocratic family who is marooned in Africa and brought up by apes. Tarzan and the young American Jane who he loves so deeply are great literary lovers because their love is so unlikely, yet so strong.
Will and Lyra are not lovers from classic literature: they are from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, but this doesn’t stop them being great literary lovers. They are teenagers from different worlds who go on an amazing series of adventures together and fall madly in love. They eventually face a truly agonizing choice so you’ll need a box of tissues ready!
These great literary lovers are also less well-known than many others, but they are from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel Mary Barton. Mary is a fantastic heroine: when Jem is charged with a murder that he did not commit, she goes on a chase to find the witnesses and evidence she needs to save his life and allow them to be together. Brilliant stuff.
These 8 great literary lovers are so good because despite all of the problems that they encounter, their love is often idealistic and ever-lasting. Some people envy the love that many of these characters share. Do you?
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