Thursday, February 14, 2008

A True Love - Fact or Fiction

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, inspired by KDC over at Word and his look at the best literary romantic couples and fresh off a conversation about my love life (or lack thereof) with my best friend, I felt compelled to bring this discussion to the masses. That would be you.

First, I have to agree with Kent, in that for me, no literary couple captures the perfect love story quite like Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. There is something so compelling about two people who have such passion, vibrancy, pride, humility, and humanity finding love with each other. However, if any of you have been following The Complete Jane Austen on PBS then you'll know that Jane Austen herself is quoted as saying, "the only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up."

And I have to say that I agree with her. And more than that, I'm becoming evermore convinced that the only way to have a love like Elizabeth and Darcy is to make it up.

I know it sounds jaded and bitter.

It's not intended to be. It's just an observation.

Take a closer look at what really makes-up a great love like the ones Austen writes about. There are abundent flaws in both characters, as well as an admission of those flaws by the characters and of the characters. In Austen's world, no one is perfect, least of all the main characters. And there is pain. Enormous, HUGE, uncomfortable amounts of pain (longing, unrequited love, humiliation). And not just in Pride and Prejudice. Sense and Sensibility, Emma and perhaps most especially Persuasion are littered with brokenness. Jane obviouslly took Shakespear's "the course of true love never did run smooth" to heart.

If that's what it takes to make TRUE, great and lasting love then I'm afraid most of us today are seriously out of luck.

Whether it's a matter of culture, education, feminism, humanism, or any other-ism, very few people in the world are willing to admit and own up to their flaws. We have no problem pointing them out in others but beware if someone tries to subject us to the same scruitny. As for pain, well, when we pop open the asprin at the slightest sign of a headache, scream for epidurals during childbirth and drive the 1/2 mile to the store because walking makes our knees hurt, then I think it might be a bit much to expect that we're willing to endure the gut-wrenching, soul-sucking, emotional batteringram that is true love. Most people would rather cut-and-run and take their chances somewhere else.

And that's why I'm not sure that true love, on that scale, even exists anymore.

Yet, deep inside I have to believe that it does because the other side of the story, beyond the raw honesty and the pain is the beauty. The people who have endured the most, who have witnessed the ugliness, who have exposed themselves to the most hurt, ridicule and rejection seem to be the ones who have the deepest loves in the end. They're the ones who have a nearly visible connection even when they're across a room. They're the ones who light-up from the inside and actually seem to glow when you ask them about their mate. They're the ones who after 50 years of marriage and 17 years after after the death of his spouse when you mention her, his eyes light-up, he smiles like a teenager and says "WOW! She was a great wife."

So, I challenge those of us that are still single to grow-up, man-up, be adults and stop running from love when it's hard, stop fearing to risk your hearts and be willing to take a chance on the possibility of true love.

As Jane so kindly fitted Milton to her purposes (in Mansfield Park), "The blessing of a wife . . . is heaven's last best gift." Or if you'd prefer something more biblical, "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing."

1 comment:

aahrens said...

Well said. Ah, if only there were a Darcy. *Sigh*