Saturday, April 2, 2011

Timeless Love and Woman Power

They say that stories are always either about love or death.

In my own writing, I typically tend to lean to the love side of the story spectrum. In my opinion, just about every great story, is a love story. Humans crave it and it rules our lives, both literary and mentally. Like I've said before, we just want to be loved.

Now I want to go back to what I was talking about last time: How I just want to be remembered, don't want to fade into time. There are some love stories that never have, and never will, die. They appeal to us no matter how many centuries pass. Newer stories will be considered among that group once these generations pass.

But what makes these romances so timeless?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, trying to piece together what makes a good love story. It's almost like a chemical compound that I'm trying to pull apart. And what do I do when something like this happens...?

I make a list.

So here it is, a list of some of (in my opinion) all time best literary romances and what goes into it. For now, I'm going to concentrate on the characters.

Pride and Predjudice
Mr. Darcy: He's often seen as a confident and cocky man. What makes him desirable to all the ladies is his wealth. But there's much more to Darcy because he truly does care for the Bennets, especially Liz. He comes to this sort of realization that he cannot be complete without her. It ultimately shows his tenderheartedness.
Elizabeth: She, too, is headstrong but in a protective way. She's almost like a lioness who will protect her family under any circumstances. Yet at the same time she reaches out to the less fortunate, even though her family struggles to make ends meet themselves. She takes longer to come around to the realization that she needs Darcy.
The two seem to be opposites, constantly butting heads. But, truly, they are one in the same.

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo: He's mischievious, good looking, a rebel, and hopelessly in love...with another woman. But the moment that he meets Juliet, he pledges his life for her. But little does he know that their families are sworn enemies.
Juliet: She's a dreamer and a bit mischievious herself. She too falls in love with Romeo although their families are enemies. And while many might think that it is Romeo who does everything possible for the two of them to stay together, she's really the one who has to put on the strong face while he is gone. Her strength allowed them a little more time as star-crossed lovers.

Jane Eyre 
Mr. Rochester: He's quite a mysterious person who doesn't like a lot of his personal life to be shown. And yet he cares deeply for his charge and for his home. And when Jane comes to work for him, he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with her, despite the fact that she is penniless.
Jane: She's confident in herself, despite her dreaded past. She puts all of her emotions on her sleeves and drives herself mad once she realizes that she's in love with her wealthy boss. But when things look bad, she takes a risk and leaves him, apparently forever so that she may lead her own life.
Despite their differences, they are completely in love. It only takes Rochester to call her name, for Jane to come running back home to him so that she may save him. They are each other's one true love, despite everything.

Gemma Doyle Series
Gemma: She is a confident young thing who lives her life on a whim. One moment she longs for the stiffling halls of London, the next for the stiffling heat of India. Together, she and her friends are quite balls-y and do things that most others would look down upon. With Kartik, she finds herself being the demure lady that she totally is not, while at the same time taking dangerous risks with him. She's strong and able to sway the situation any which way she pleases.
Kartik: Bound by duty, he finds himself following this wild-child. Despite his uptight personality, he finds himself a victim of her. He falls in love and "loosens up". He too risks all that he has in order to be with this girl, even though society deems them as unfit.

(As much as I hate to bring this one up) Twilight Series
Edward: He's everyone's Mr. McDreamy. For the most part. He's indestructible and yet still finds himself powerless when he meets Bella. The two of them, like Jane and Rochester, share a connection that everyone should have in their own love lives. He does the saving, but really she rescues him.
Bella: She might be weak and clumsy, but she still has a strong willpower. She refuses to give up on Edward when he says they can never be together. She does everything possible to keep him with her when he leaves her behind. They're opposites and yet the same.

So this got me really thinking. What makes these sorts of love stories timeless? Why do we remember these longer than most anything else in this world? Why are these the special ones?

At first, I thought it was because of the obvious "opposites attract". But then that didn't seem quite right. That changed my idea to the thought that they might seem like opposites, but underneath it all they are almost exactly the same.


And no.

The more I thought, the more I realized that it was the woman. After all, woman are generally the ones who read the love stories. And women are, for the majority of these stories, the authors themselves. I've come upon the realization that passive woman are never remembered. The women who let anything happen to them without trying to change a thing are the ones who we forget or who never gain popularity within the literary world.

Yes, it is woman power. The strong women, like Liz, Juliet, Jane, Gemma, and Bella, the ones who fought for the people they loved, who stuck to their morals and never gave up when people told them that it doesn't work that way...we remember them.

So, while I can't make a formula for the next great romance novel...I know one ingredient:

The woman must be strong.  No matter what.

So women, build those muscles. And men, well, try to be a bit more romantic sometimes (see: Mr. Darcy).


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