by Alyssa Nicole
Yuanfen- (n) A relationship by fate or destiny; the binding force between two people
Fictional couples throughout the ages have become idealistic examples of what true love should look like. Their stories of star-aligned destiny and undying devotion ignite the hopeless romantic inside of many. Kilig, (pronounced keel-eeg) a unique Filipino word, is defined as the feeling of inexplicable joy one gets when something romantic or idealistic occurs. This word encapsulates why so many readers are drawn to these stories of the heart. Yet these books often end at the happily ever afters (or in some illfated cases, happily never afters.) It makes me wonder whether these literary couples could stand the test of time beyond the confines of the pages in which they reside. Here are my musings on some of the most beloved or “shipped” couples in literature.
Romeo and Juliet- Arguably, Shakespeare’s most well-known work, this tragic tale is certainly not lacking in passion and whirlwind romance. But if Romeo and Juliet had not taken their own lives in fits of despair, would they have made it last? Or would immaturity and inconstancy have been the death of their relationship if poison and dagger had not? It is evident early on that Romeo is capricious as many an adolescent boy, his affections for Rosaline instantly transferring to Juliet upon mere sight alone. Who’s to say that another fair maiden could not have just as effortlessly stolen his heart just by a glance. When professing his love for Juliet, Romeo begins to swear it to the moon. Juliet, wise for her thirteen years, replies, “O swear not by the moon,
th’inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.” Friar Laurence chastises Romeo, “Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here! Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, so soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies. Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” Was Romeo’s devotion for Juliet more than mere infatuation? As for young Juliet, romance was a taste unfamiliar to her virgin palate. It is easy for a young girl to fall in love, but not nearly as easy to stay in love. Dealing with burgeoning foreign emotions, becoming a goddess in the eyes of a handsome young worshipper, is overwhelming to a girl barely on the cusp of womanhood. It is difficult to determine if her adoration for her besotted suitor is more than just the whimsy of youth. Their blazing passion would very likely have fizzled out had they survived into adulthood.
*Together Forever? No
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett
Jane Austen’s beloved pair had a much rockier start than most, and it was certainly not love at first sight for them. Elizabeth is a headstrong heroine who knows her own mind. She has rejected an offer of marriage to her obsequious cousin, for she does not believe in matrimony without love being at its core. She has enough self-respect to even reject Darcy’s first proposal when he insults both her and her family. It takes time for her to better understand both Darcy’s character and his motives before her
heart begins to yield and she finds herself falling in love with him. Since Darcy is combating his own feelings for her, it is clear his love is both stronger and deeper-rooted than his prejudices and selfimportance. He loves Elizabeth for who she is as a person, certainly not for her social standing, her money or her family, all of which he’d used as reasons he’d been at war with his own heart. Yet, Darcy professes, “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” It is not until they both cast aside their pride and prejudices that they can allow their hearts to become their compasses, finding their true north in each other. *Together Forever? Yes
Wesley and Princess Buttercup
A swashbuckling story of romance and adventure, The Princess Bride became something of a cult classic after its theatrical release. The movie closely follows the source material, a 1970’s fantasy penned by author William Goldman. Buttercup is a beautiful country girl who often gives orders to the man in her family’s employ, Wesley. He takes this in stride, replying simply, “As you wish” to Buttercup’s every command. It is not until a Countess takes interest in Wesley and Buttercup is consumed with jealousy that she realizes she loves her “farm boy.” Buttercup unabashedly declares her love for Wesley and later, he pours out his heart to her. He leaves her to seek his fortunes overseas in order to provide a comfortable future for his beloved. Buttercup misses him deeply, mourning his absence even as she is forced into an engagement to a cruel and manipulative prince. Yet their love stands the test of time, for the years do not detract from their deep-rooted love for one another. Wesley, after a pirate abduction
during his lengthy voyage, saves Buttercup from a scheming Sicilian and his motley crew. More chaos ensues and Wesley is killed, then revived by a wizard’s potion. There’s not much life in him and he can barely stand upright but he valiantly fights the evil Prince Humperdink using his own cleverness, once again saving his soulmate. It is clear throughout the novel that Wesley is utterly devoted to Buttercup and would trek to the ends of the earth for her. Their words to one another reverberate with such poignant emotion and intimacy that it is “inconceivable” for any reader to doubt that this couple’s hearts will be eternally intertwined. Buttercup’s adoration and adherence of Wesley rings most true in this quote: “There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that…” Wesley later says, “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” This perfect pair is truly meant to be. *Together Forever? Yes
Beauty and the Beast
For the final couple in this article, I have chosen a duo from an 18th -century French fairytale by author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (try saying that one five times fast!) This story is most well-known from the 1991 Disney adaptation that captivated young bookworms such as me. The original story, however, differs greatly from the animated adaptation that I grew up with. There are no arrogant crimson-clad rivals, no enchanted tableware to serenade our fair heroine and no evanescent rose glittering beneath a glass dome. The interactions between Belle and the Beast are few in the book, only during dinners each evening when he beseeches her to marry him, though every night she refuses. He does visit her in his true princely form in her dreams, though Beauty does not realize that he and the Beast are one in the same. She quickly falls in love with him in her dreams. In her waking hours, Beast lavishes Belle in luxury, bestowing upon her a dazzling wardrobe and visions of theatrical performances
through a magic mirror. Beast proves to be a gentle, doting creature and in the book, we discover his curse was caused by a vengeful fairy rather than a slighted one. Beauty requests to see her family again which Beast reluctantly agrees to. When Beauty sees that he is dying of heartbreak, she runs back to him and marries him out of pity. He later transforms into the prince of her dreams (quite literally) and the duo have a grand wedding. It feels like this couple’s story is not very organic in the centuries-old
fairytale. And in truth, she came to him as a willing prisoner to save her father’s life. Not the ideal beginning for any relationship. I feel the connection was more believable in the film because we see Belle falling in love with Beast in reality, in his animal form, rather than the odd nature of the book, where she becomes enamored only upon slumber when he is a handsome human. Furthermore, things get rather confusing when the dream man accuses her of loving the Beast more than him (even though they are same soul) and Belle states she cares for Beast only out of pity and gratitude for his kindness to her, purely platonic. I can’t entirely say that I believe this complex pair to be a heaven-made match.Together Forever? No
There are so many famous literary couples in both classic and contemporary fiction and February is the perfect month to let yourself be whisked away into your favorite romance. Which couples do you think have yuanfen?