“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
As all of you who studied it for the Leaving Cert know, these are the opening words to Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic romantic novel. This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice and even in our crazy futuristic world (Imagine what 2013 would look like to Jane Austen?) it still holds a very important place in popular culture.
A timeless story of boy-meets-girl, girl-hates-boy, boy-does-something-nice-for-girl, girl-relents-and-falls-for-boy, the tale of Elizabeth and Darcy has become a template for many modern adaptations. Bridget Jones’ Diary, for example, is a loose interpretation of Pride and Prejudice. The film Bride and Prejudice gave the story a Bollywood twist. The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, a series of Youtube video logs, has brought Austen’s Regency-era yarn right up to the 21st century.
With endless sequels and homages to their love story, Lizzy and Fitzwilliam have become one of the most beloved couples in literary history. But theirs isn’t the only love destined to be enjoyed for centuries upon centuries – here are some of the best literary couples.
Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series
Who ever thought that when Ron Weasley saved Hermione Granger from that ghastly troll in the Philosopher’s Stone that six books later they’d be the best couple to emerge from the Harry Potter series? Harry and Ginny < Ron and Hermione, sorry (not sorry.) Well, maybe it wasn’t that surprising – it became apparent around book four that Ron and Hermione had feelings for each other (Ron’s hissy fit upon seeing her with Viktor Krum springs to mind.) They bickered, they outright fought (“You – complete – arse – Ronald – Weasley!”), and in one particularly sweet moment, they fell asleep holding hands. However, all these hints didn’t make their snog in the Room of Requirement any less thrilling. It’s also worth noting that it was Hermione who instigated the kiss, and thank Merlin for that – how long would we have been hanging around if we were waiting for Ron to make the first move?
Robbie Turner and Cecilia Tallis, Atonement
Robbie and Cecilia; childhood friends who each grow up and realise that the other one is kinda sexy but also that they are probably in love. Totally cute, right? Totally cute, except that reading or watching the movie adaptation of Atonement generally garners one reaction from the audience: gasping sobs, cries of “BRIONY!” and much shaking of fists. Because really, if you want to be floored by a tragic romantic drama, forget The Notebook – Atonement is the only way to go. The story of two lovers torn apart by the meddlings of a bratty preteen girl and a little thing called World War II, it’s got everything. War! Betrayal! Risque sex in libraries! Aha. Bet you’re interested now.
Harry and Zinnia Wormwood, Matilda
Two star-crossed lovers join forces to help a sweet little girl learn to read – just kidding. Harry and Zinnia are probably among the worst literary parents to ever exist (though that’s a whole other list), but you can’t deny that the ability of these two awful, awful people to love and adore each other is pretty remarkable. There’s hope for all of us if Harry Wormwood can manage to find a loving life partner.
Honourable mentions: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games), Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (Brokeback Mountain), Kitty and Levin (Anna Karenina)
And probably the worst literary couple of all time:
Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, Twilight
Is there any relationship more toxic than that of Edward and Bella? If she was your besto, you’d probably tell her to dump him ASAP, as their relationship ticks all the wrong boxes. Edward plays mind games with Bella and sort of (OK, pretty much) stalks her; she cuts herself off from friends and family and surrenders her life and thoughts to him; he’s so much stronger than her that she falls unconscious during sex, and wakes up bruised all over. Let’s not forget the fact that HE HAS AN ALMOST INSATIABLE URGE TO KILL HER AND DRINK HER BLOOD. And she’s A-OK with that. Time to strike Twilight off the “romantic fiction” list and stick it on the “horror” shelf, we think.