Valentine’s Day, this year landing on a Sunday, is the highlight of February for many. For one day the normally drab and cold month seems brighter and warmer. The reason for this phenomenon, simply put, is love.
Love is expressed in many ways. However, the most diverse and profound method to show it is often found in literature. Love is a language, and many books and poems speak it fluently. What better way to get in the mood for Valentine’s Day than reading about it?
William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” is famous for describing devotion and adoration:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
Shakespeare states that love is not subject to change, time or death. He is able to express this most clearly using poetry. Roses and chocolates are fine and all, but they just don’t scream “my love for you cannot be touched by death.” Language—literature—does that.
Due to literature’s ability to convey deep emotions, romance is one of the most popular genres. Books like “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Notebook” are all enormously popular.
However, popularity and quality are two very different things.
“I think society today has perpetuated this idea that love is only physical,” junior accounting major Micah Hinson said. “That’s not really focusing on love itself. What’s good is seeing how people take care of others because of their dedication and adoration for each other.”
Today, however, this more Christian-oriented representation of love is not very common.
“The type of love portrayed is mostly false,” senior English education major Madylan Kean said. “I know that love can feel glorious and unstoppable in the ‘puppy love’ phase, but the reality is that it’s hard.”
Because love is too often portrayed as shallow or easy, it is important to know what to look for in romance literature. Even Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116,” no matter how charming and enchanting it sounds, can convey skewed views.
When describing what she looks for most in romance literature, Hinson said, “Marriage and love is supposed to imitate Christ’s love for us. When you see that played out in a story—when someone who believes that they’re undeserving learns that they are worthy of being loved—that’s beautiful. Good love stories are those that mirror Christ’s love.”
Both Hinson and Kean recommended “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë for a portrayal that is both comparatively accurate and romantic. Brontë generates one of the most profound quotes from the novel when she writes from the perspective of Jane: “I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel.”
Language does well to convey the most profound and idealistic of loves, but good romantic literature—the kind that displays emotions that are accurate, healthy and rich—can be hard to come by. The search, though, is often worth it.
This can be highlighted and proven by some of the most famous romantic lines in literature.
For instance, Leo Tolstoy commented on love transcending physical appearance in “Anna Karenina” when he wrote, “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
Nicholas Sparks spoke on the fulfillment of life through love in “The Notebook” when he wrote, “I am nothing special; just a common man… But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived; I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.”
The character Winnie the Pooh even spoke of the power of love when life is lost when he said, “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you,” in the novel “Winnie the Pooh” by A.A. Milne. So with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is a popular topic. If one seeks to understand it, they should look to literature – for it speaks of love in ways that transcend societal no
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