In honor of February, the month of love, my Top Ten this month will be about romance literature! And this will also be my last Top Ten for a while. I enjoy writing them, so if there’s popular demand I’ll bring them back. They take of lot of time, though, and I’m trying to focus on getting some more books finished for the rest of the year. Anyway, enjoy the post!
1. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen was born to write romance novels, and Pride and Prejudice is among her finest. Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters set to lose their house if their father dies, is an independent, no-nonsense, and somewhat prejudice girl. Mr. Darcy, a wealthy dancing-hater, and his friend Mr. Bingley come to live near Elizabeth, Jane, and the rest of the Bennets. What ensues is a romantic and hard-hitting look at the social structure and societal misgivings of the time. Austen, in writing Mr. Darcy’s famous monologue on his feelings, could have simply shortened it to, “Pride comes before the fall, and Ms. Bennet, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”
2. Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Robin Hood
Robin Hood, one of the oldest European folk heroes, wouldn’t be the kindhearted thief he is today if not for the lovely and forcibly chaste Maid Marian—let the woman free! From classic tales of heroism to comedic musical numbers and gritty dramas, Robin Hood and Maid Marian have seen it all together. Even without a consistent story, they’re one of the most recognizable couples in literature.
3. Westley and Buttercup, The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is as classic as Beethoven. It’s a love story that anyone can enjoy; funny, intriguing, and unconventional. While it was a book first, the movie has reached amazing heights in pop culture and reference potential. I mean, who hasn’t dropped an As you wish on their significant other, but actually meant I love you.
4. Anne and Gilbert, Anne of Green Gables
Anne Shirley, an orphan girl adopted by an elderly brother and sister, is the titular character of the Anne of Green Gables series, and she’s fantastic. While Anne and Gilbert’s relationship is not the primary focus of the story (in fact, they don’t even get together for several books), it is one of the things that makes Anne’s adventures in Green Gables so much fun. She’s a smart, fiery redhead who’s eager to make a name for herself, and Gilbert is a rough-around-the-edges schoolboy who—well—let’s say he grows into his emotions. Seeing the two grow together and support each other’s endeavors is enough to make me want to huddle with a bosom friend, as Anne Shirley would say, and read the days away.
5. Ron and Hermione, Harry Potter
This is definitely the most controversial couple to make my list, given the fact that the Harry Potter fan base is split at its very core on whether Hermione should have been with Ron or Harry. Even J.K. Rowling herself has addressed the issue, seeming to express some regret over her final decision. But regardless of all that: I love Ron and Hermione. The balancing act of Hermione’s witty and strong-willed attitude and Ron’s often clumsy but eternally good-heartedness (except for when he’s, you know, under a spell or something) makes for a couple that I jut want to Awh at. And Harry is still very much a part of their relationship because without him, Ron and Hermione might not have ever met! The chemistry is simply magical.
6. Catherine and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
I touched on Wuthering Heights in my Top Ten Antagonists post as well, saying that Heathcliff was his own worst enemy (which is part of the reason that this couple’s story is so tragically beautiful). The tale of Catherine and Heathcliff is a heart wrenching and intense affair of the emotions, watching two people who love each other but are destined to be apart attempt to find their balance. I don’t want to say more, but it’s a book worth reading. Maybe eat some comfort food with it, though.
7. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
Persuasion, another Jane Austen novel, sees Anne Elliot, the daughter of a vain and expensive man, getting into a chance meeting with an old courter of hers: Captain Wentworth. Like many of Austen’s novels, Persuasion deals with themes such as social imbalances, a woman’s role in the world, and the vanity that often comes with a money-focused society. This story in particular also deals with something else that was frowned upon at the time, a broken engagement. Anne, once having been engaged to Captain Wentworth, was convinced by others that he was beneath her in both finances and social class, and she broke off that engagement still loving the man. At its heart, this is a tale of two lovers, now equalized in the way the world makes us, too afraid to speak their emotions to one another and equally frightened to let those feelings go. Despite Persuasion taking place in a time long past, we can still find lessons in it that ring true today.
8. Noah and Allie, The Notebook
The Notebook introduces us to two of the most relatable individuals in a romance story, ever. I was that guy who watched the film adaption of The Notebook on my own accord and cried heartily with a bowl of ice cream. I was a weird kid. Noah is an everyman and soldier who’s in love with Allie, a rich woman who also happens to be a terrible decision maker, and despite being torn apart at every turn, they fight for each other. It’s not so much the overarching story that makes this couple so relatable, but the little moments in their story that make us smile or shed a tear at the thought that we have, at some point, also felt the way they do. It’s also one of the few romances that shows a couple growing old together, which is something so important to see.
9. Sherlock and Watson, Sherlock Holmes
Literary couples doesn’t necessarily mean romantic couples… Sherlock and Watson are one of the most recognizable duos in literature and film—from movies to TV. Whether solving mysteries or embarking on an adventure of self-discovery, the pair of Sherlock and Watson are always making us question our own moralities and grip our seats in suspense. Their brotherhood and friendship seems to have no bounds, and that’s something to hold on to.
10. Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and the Beast
A tale as old as time, and one that will forever stay in the hearts and minds of its readers and viewers. Beauty and the Beast, originally written by French novelist Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, is the tale of a young woman who lays her life on the line for her father when a huge beast at her village’s edge gives her father an ultimatum: his life or his daughter’s. Beauty’s, sometimes called Bell/Bella, tale is somewhat sweet and somewhat creepy, but nonetheless, it’s an amazing love story about finding what’s on the inside and looking past the big furious monster on the outside. Beauty and the Beast set the stage for strong female roles in a genre of fairy tales that was severely lacking them, and that’s something that we’re reaping benefits from still today.
Interested in reading some more Top Tens (or Top Nine)? Last month’s was Top Nine Folk Heroes.
Weekly Writing Prompt:
Not even the sea could keep them apart…