Throughout many works of literature, love plays a significant role in the characters’ personalities, decisions and overall well-being. Some characters sacrifice their lives for love, some let it cloud their judgment and some even flourish in its presence. However, for some literary characters, a lack of love causes them to suffer and can lead to their ultimate demise. This week, we’ll take a look at some of those characters for whom love would have solved their problems and changed their fates entirely.
The Weekend Five: Literary Characters Whose Problems Could Have Been Solved With Love
1. Miss Havisham (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens).
Already a bitter old woman at the start of the novel, Miss Havisham is a spinster who has been burned. (For those of you who have read the book, I apologize for the awful double meaning here.) When she was young, Miss Havisham was left at the altar by the man she loved, and as a result, she stopped all of the clocks in her home and remained in her decaying wedding dress, the house preserved to the state it had been on her wedding day. Her coping mechanism? Miss Havisham adopts a beautiful little girl named Estella and raises her to be a heartbreaker. She teaches Estella to be cold to men and even lets her use Pip, the novel’s protagonist, for practice. Although Miss Havisham realizes the error of her ways in the very end, she still could have avoided this quest for revenge had she listened to a few Taylor Swift songs and moved on to find a new love.
2. Frankenstein’s Monster (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley).
Don’t let the picture deceive you… this next one isn’t Herman Munster, but Frankenstein’s Monster! Dr. Victor Frankenstein brings this man to life, and then immediately abandons him in disgust and fear, considering him to be a Monster. (When I refer to Frankenstein, then, I am referring to the scientist, not to his creation, as some have made that easy mistake.) Frankenstein’s Monster lives peacefully alone for a while, reading Paradise Lost and longingly observing a family from afar. He feels rejected by his father and often compares himself to Satan in Paradise Lost — and the fact alone that he’s even reading Milton in his spare time should be sad enough! Frankenstein’s Monster isn’t inherently evil, but because he cannot get the love and care he so desperately needs and deserves, he fights back by destroying everything that Victor Frankenstein holds dear. As depressing as that is, Frankenstein could have avoided all of this, had he not created something he wasn’t going to love and care for.
3. Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte).
As a gypsy orphan, Heathcliff lives with the Earnshaw family and falls in love with the young Catherine Earnshaw. Of course, because of their different stations in life, she refuses to marry him and instead accepts another man’s proposal. Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights and returns a wealthy man, but never does end up with Cathy. However, he marries the sister of Cathy’s husband, treats her terribly, and acts cruelly toward each of their heirs. Heathcliff is haunted by Catherine for the rest of his life and is ultimately buried alongside her. Granted, Catherine seems like a piece of work, so maybe Heathcliff should have given his wife Isabella a fair chance?
4. Dorian Gray (The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde).
Dorian Gray, as a young man, falls superficially in love with an actress named Sibyl Vane, mostly because of the beauty of her acting. However, when her feelings for him affect her theatrical abilities, he cruelly rejects her, which leads to her suicide. Dorian also more or less sells his soul for youth and beauty, which ultimately leads to years of meaningless debauchery, scandal and eventually his death. Dorian is adored by artist Basil Hallward, who paints the titular portrait, but Dorian’s problem stems more from the fact that he loves no one but himself. Dorian, you’re good looking and all, but maybe you should stop being the poster child for Gluttony and find a nice person with whom you can finally settle down.
5. Voldemort (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling).
The Dark Lord Voldemort has a lot of angst – and his dysfunctional family tree certainly doesn’t help the situation. His mother Merope used a Love Potion to attract Tom Riddle Senior (Voldie’s father), so essentially, Voldemort wasn’t even conceived out of true love. Tom Senior leaves Merope when she stops giving him the potion, Merope dies in childbirth and Voldemort – then Tom Marvolo Riddle – goes to an orphanage. He’s an outsider for all of his young life, and even though Dumbledore looks out for him at Hogwarts, he still becomes a complete sociopath jerk and eventually his killing spree begins. Of course, when Harry survives his Avada Kedavra curse because of his mother’s protection, love is what nearly destroys Voldemort and reduces him to a very weak form. Voldemort is feared by those who follow him, but never really loved (in spite of that awkward hug scene between him and Draco Malfoy in the final film installment). Love is one of the series’ major focal points, and because he has never experienced it, Voldemort stands to lose the most because of it.
What are your thoughts? Are there any characters missing from this list that you would want to add?