Research Paper: Heroic Love

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Heroic Love Throughout the Ages

Please update Works Cited -- I did not have the information needed to do so Love is one of the most complicated emotions in the universe. While we want to understand it, the truth is we simply cannot explain why it makes people do the things they do. Since man has been writing, man has endeavored to understand the complexities of love -- almost to no avail. Literature helps us realize we are not alone but an inspection of love from the medieval ages until modern times illustrates that we no more control over it now than we did several hundred years ago. Love is a bright light in the universe but that does not mean it does not have a dark side. When lovers are in harmony, all is well. The heroic love experienced in medieval times is a glorious example of what love should be and what love can be but sometimes is not. Throughout the ages, men and women love recklessly and no amount of knowledge, technology, or advancements will ever change this fact. From Medieval times until the present, we long for the perfect kind of soul mate love to carry us through the years.

In de France's "Equitan," we see how true love is marred by the king's affair with his seneschal's wife. True love, or soul mate love, is pushed aside by passion in this story. In fact, most of what we know about heroic love is missing from this text. One of the most essential aspects of true love is fidelity and the king and the seneschal's wife show no respect for fidelity. Soul mates also respect each other and serve as the closets of friends. Here, we have a husband willing to love and honor his wife, but she is not willing to do so for him. She is easily tempted by the king as soon as he becomes aware of her. In fact, the king wants to meet her as soon as he can. He finds her "courtly, wise, proper / Beautiful in face and figure, / Friendly, too, lively not cold" (de France 76). We also read that "love shot an arrow in his direction / and the wound it made's immense" (77). They disavow love when they exchange rings and keep faith as lovers and friends. Further evidence that this relationship is not about real love emerges when the couple begins to talk about removing the seneschal from the picture. Their plans turns on them, leaving the author to reveal the moral of the story: "He who seeks to harm his neighbor / Will be the victim of his own labor" (80). Here, we see the dangers of meddling with love when it is not true love.

Love is not always balanced between spouses, however. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's modern short story, "The Birthmark," we have a couple that seems to share a lopsided relationship. Georgiana loves her husband dearly despite what she uncovers about him as she reads his books in the laboratory. She loves him so much she still has faith in him and agrees to go along with his experiment. The most important aspect of her willingness to the experiment is the fact that she does not see anything wrong the birthmark; she is allowing his impression to influence her decision. People have told her it was a "charm" (600). It is also worth noting that Georgiana is beautiful even with a birthmark on her face. Georgiana possesses a willingness to take Aylmer serious and she honestly cares about what he wants but we cannot say the same for him. In fact, it is safe to assume Aylmer does not love his wife as much as she loves him. He is willing to put her life in danger in order to perform an experiment. Georgiana also considers herself to be Aylmer's closest friend, she is willing to talk to him about anything, and submits to her husband's wishes. She possesses heroic love but it is wasted on Aylmer.

Another modern-day love story that demonstrates the incredible imbalance of love between two people is F. Scotts Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is a fool for love and we certainly cannot deny that when he loves, he loves completely. He offers himself completely to the woman of his desires and proves that he will do almost anything to get and keep her love. This story would be happy if only Daisy felt the same way. Unfortunately, she does not. Matters are complicated because Daisy is married and has a child and Gatsby does not care. This attitude is dangerous and while we might love Gatsby's passion, he is reckless in his pursuit. Here we have a man willing to give his all to the woman of his desires much like Georgiana is willing to give her all to Aylmer but this feeling is not mutual. In fact, there is not nice word for Daisy because she loves no one but herself. With Gatsby, we see the right kind of love and devotion with the wrong woman. Gatsby would have made someone a fine husband because it is clear he love straight from the heart and he would have anything humanly possible to keep his wife happy. His fatal flaw was falling in love with the wrong woman. Here we see how difficult it is to make a mistake about who "the one" love of your life can be. Gatsby's story proves how modernity and all the money in the world cannot make love work.

The constant thing about love is that someone will always be in it and those that find themselves in relationships where the felling is reciprocated are perhaps the happiest people on earth. William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" demonstrates this with its study of the eternal qualities of love. By showing how certain aspects of nature fade away, the poet deduces that the beauty of his love exceeds all extraordinary features of nature. He begins this by giving his love plenty of compliments, surely to please her. He tells her she is "more lovely and more temperate" (Shakespeare 2) than a summer's day and finds that there is nothing in nature that can outlast her beauty. He notes, "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,/And summer's lease hath all too short a date" (3-4) but the "eternal summer shall not fade" (9). This statement highlights how the poet understands this beauty as everlasting. This poem illustrates how the poet's source of beauty is life and as long as life abounds, her beauty will, too.

Another medieval view of soul mate love is Christopher Marlowe's poem, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." With this poem, we see the same type of love exhibited in "Sonnet 18," a pure and honest love that promises to last forever. The poet woos his woman with romantic notions and promises to make a "beds of roses" (Marlowe 9) that are "embroidered all with leaves of myrtle" (12). This sentiment reflects the soul mate ideals of doing what one can to please another. The poem concludes powerfully when the poet writes:

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning.

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me, and be my love. (21-4)

These last lines express a perfect love that is in line with the traditional views of heroic love.

A modern-day love poem that expresses the same kind of love we see in medieval soul mate love is in Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "Annabel Lee," we se a similar type of love. The speaker mentions that Annabel Lee loved with a "love that was more than love" (Poe 9). This love was so powerful that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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