Interrupting my grand analyze every 100 books to read before you die list series to discuss some of literature’s most famed, idealized romances and just how functional they would be. People always say that television gives us unrealistic expectations for… something. I don’t deny this. But I’m pretty sure that literature could be just as guilty. It’s just sometimes better-written, older, and not interrupted by commercial breaks, so people don’t always think about it.
I mean. Books and I, we’re buddies. We’re close friends. But TV doesn’t have to suck, right? And graphic novels and comic books don’t have to suck either. And neither do films. And… yeah.
10. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Uhm, hell no. Scarlett and Rhett are one of the great romances of literature (and cinema) and they… are really, really not functional. When the most memorable thing that one partner said to the other is “I don’t give a damn,” I don’t see how it could be anything but dysfunctional.
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Again, hell no. The great romances of this book are built around creeping, adultery, and the idle rich. And Gatsby dies. There is no function in their romance.
8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Again,, adultery, divorce, sexual liberation that’s really just treating other people like crap. And the idle rich. The literary idle rich never have satisfactory romances.
7. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Oh look! I wouldn’t say that every relationship in these books is super-functional. No. And I’m skeptical that every single pair of Harry’s Hogwarts classmates who married and popped out kids at the exact same time is still in love howevermany years later and still functional. But then there’s Molly and Arthur, Tonks and Lupin, Bill and Fleur, things like that. It’s hit-or-miss, but at least not a total miss, right?
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This… is a strange one. Meg and John Brooke, yes. Always forever and then he dies and it’s sad. Marmee and Father, yes. Even if it’s one of those “this book was written back when most parents that were decent human beings had stable relationships so there” cases. Jo and the professor, ye-eesss? I mean, I six-year-old shipped Jo and Teddy like mad, and I don’t believe for a minute, incidentally, that Teddy and Amy’s marriage is an entirely stable one, but I think in their way Jo and Bhaer had something good.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The title… kind of sets you up for a whole bunch of not-entirely-stable people living not-entirely-stable lives. It’s very interesting, but way not romantic.
3. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
I also six-year-old shipped Anne and Gilbert, forever, and the fact that they probably still get into silly fights just means that silly fights won’t ruin their relationship because they love each other.
2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Really, any Shakespeare play is amazingly dysfunctional. Even the comedies. Even the romances for crying out loud. The Winter’s Tale? Have mercy. Hamlet is one of the two kings-and-queens of dysfunction plays, though. I mean. Gertrude + anyone is a disaster. Hamlet + Ophelia is a hideous mess. Even if I have this weird soft spot for Ophelia’s crazyassedness. (I read this book that was retelling it from her point of view, and she faked her crazy and her death and ran away, and eventually hooked up with Horatio. That was better.)
1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
–your fangirl heroine.