Stories about two people finding love despite difficult circumstances have always been absurdly popular, particularly to those with a startling affinity for cats, or a sneaking suspicion that they will die alone. Here’s a breakdown of six famous literary couples, and what we can learn from them:
1. Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare’s story of the star-crossed lovers is acknowledged as a classic romance, primarily by those who never read it in high school. First of all, the lovers are, seriously, fourteen- it is a concern that R and J both agree their first ever romantic encounter, ever, is just the best they’re ever going to do. Secondly, duh, they kill themselves because they’re so into each other. No attempt to give the tense family situation a few days or anything. And thirdly, their super passionate courtship lasts for less than a week. Shakespeare is the best, but let’s all try to remember this is a play about emotionally unstable teenagers following through on a suicide pact, because their moms are bitches to each other.
2. Edward and Bella
Do we even need to? Yes, let’s. Pre-teen girls everywhere absolutely lost their minds over the Twilight books. And why wouldn’t they? The story follows Bella, a shockingly one-dimensional protagonist, and her relationship with Edward, a really shitty person, and Jacob, a slightly less shitty person, depending on which twelve-year-old hormone factory you ask. The books explore whether or not Bella should. literally, die so that she can forever remain the same age as her immortal boyfriend. That age, by the way? Seventeen. Edward is reluctant to let that happen, but still chill enough to sneak into her room every night and watch her sleep, keeping an absolutely constant watch on her “for the sake of her protection.” Truly, a modern Casablanca. Stephenie Meyer is now a kajillionaire because she squeezed four books out of a scenario in which it’s so important to have a boyfriend that letting a guy murder you is a viable option. So let that sink in for a bit.
3. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy
Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy are totally adorable, in the sense that they fucking despise each other when they first meet, but somehow end up together, presumably because the dating scene looks pretty bleak in England in the early 1800s. Essentially, Elizabeth is like, “Why hello, here we both are at a dance, I am somewhat socially awkward.” And Darcy is like, “Um, this bitch is poor and speaks her mind. I’m out.” He is a complete dick about her lack of fortune, and in turn she’s a complete dick about his lack of gentlemanly manners. But a year later they get married, which is fine, I guess. Changes of heart do happen.
4. Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby
Jay Gatsby is a sweet guy who falls in love with a rich young woman named Daisy, spending a beautiful month and a half with her before they’re torn apart by war and circumstance, you know the deal. Five years later, having become Jay-Z and Beyoncé-rich, Gatsby moves into a house located across the bay from Daisy, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Weird? Sure, but let’s push forward.
He then commences spending all of his time hoping that she will show up at one of his parties. He successfully gets Daisy to rekindle their relationship by cheating on her already unfaithful husband- women, right? Then they don’t end up together because he’s all, “Say you never loved Tom!” and she’s all, “You’re being too intense, bye.” Then everyone dies.
5. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester
Jane Eyre is a mousey young woman to whom a lot of crappy things happen, until she falls in love with the man who employs her as a governess. His name is Edward Rochester, and he and Jane fall in love at the speed of molasses, eventually deciding to get married. It’s kind of like The Sound of Music, except for the fact that Edward was married once before, his wife went crazy, and he now keeps her chained in the attic of his large estate. They take a small break after this information is sprung upon Jane on the day of their wedding, but eventually she’s like, “No big deal. I’m not about to put a bunch of effort into attracting another man. Let’s just forget the whole barbaric imprisonment thing.” Aww!
6. Scarlett and Rhett
Scarlett O’Hara was a brand new kind of female lead character, in that she was unapologetically a huge bitch. Rhett Butler was a dreamy leading man, because he was unapologetically a d-bag nearly all the time. The book begins when Scarlett is a young, irrevocably spoiled brat, and follows her journey as the Civil War forces her to leave that lifestyle behind, becoming a less spoiled, but significantly more manipulative, grown woman. Handsome scoundrel Rhett Butler frequently insults Scarlett and abandons her in dangerous situations. She eventually marries Rhett because he has loved her all along! And also because he is rich and she is fucking done working outside. In the final scene, Rhett leaves her because even he, a thief and army deserter, can’t handle all the crazy.