Darcy and Elizabeth. Romeo and Juliet. Cathy and Heathcliff. Jane and Rochester. These famous literary couples get all the attention, but some other important couples deserve the spotlight this Valentine’s Day.
While the following couples are lesser-known, both in the public eye and even sometimes in their own stories, let’s give them the love they deserve.
Dorothea Brooke and Will Ladislaw (George Eliot, Middlemarch)
Although these two are certainly the title characters in many ways, they still deserve a little extra respect. Eliot’s masterpiece shows a variety of examples of marriage – some exemplary, some… less than ideal.
Why we love them: Dorothea and Will take a looooong time to get together – they both go through a series of false starts, misunderstandings, and career changes (not least of which is the large chunk of the book wherein Dorothea is married to Will’s grumpy, aging cousin) before finally recognizing their value to each other. In the end, they’re together because they just fit—they’re both quirky, misunderstood, and deeply devoted to their personal goals. No one understands them but each other. And Will, ever theatric, insists that “no other woman exists by the side of [Dorothea].” In the end, Dorothea realizes the same and chooses him over wealth, status, and comfort.
Éowyn and Faramir (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
We all know and love Aragorn and Arwen (especially from the films), but do we remember Éowyn and Faramir?
Why we love them: Both have baggage, but they heal together – both literally and figuratively. They meet in the Houses of Healing after the last great battle; both are wounded from their valorous deeds. However, both are healing in more ways than one. Faramir is healing from the traumatic deaths of his father and brother, and their complicated personalities in life. Éowyn is healing from unrequited love for Aragorn and the death of her uncle, who she desperately tried to save. Both have overcome great trials and they heal together. The romance that follows is gentle, steady, and grows in mutual respect and support.
Drake Carne and Morwenna Chynoweth (Winston Graham, Poldark novels)
I know, I know. You’re thinking of Ross and Demelza’s tempestuous love triangles and intrigues. But can we take a moment to appreciate Drake and Morwenna?
Why we love them: Winston Graham wrote that “the greatest thing is to have someone who loves you and—and to love in return.” For Drake, it’s love at first sight, and Morwenna shortly thereafter… but life isn’t that simple. After Morwenna ends up in a badly arranged, abusive, and miserable marriage, Drake is devastated. Still, he never gives up hope. And Morwenna never stops loving him, either. A few years later, her husband is dead and it finally looks like they can be together–except for Morwenna’s crippling PTSD, Drake’s poverty, and both families’ objections. Morwenna is scarred to the point that even Drake touching her gives her violent flashbacks. Through time, patience, and fierce loyalty, the two grow together again and it’s beautiful to behold.
Admiral and Mrs. Croft (Jane Austen, Persuasion)
While the attention is all on Anne’s turbulent past with the tall, dark and brooding Captain
Wentworth, the Crofts quietly and neatly provide them (and us) with a fabulous role model.
Why we love them: Admiral Croft is a sea-captain, and we first learn that he is weather-beaten from years in the Royal Navy. Mrs. Croft is unconventional – she goes on shipboard with her husband, not wanting to be parted from him, even when he takes difficult, lengthy journeys around the world. In 1816, ships were not comfortable, nor were they ladylike. Mrs. Croft is a role model for Anne, whose family provides her with only examples of selfishness, arrogance, and deceit. Both she and the Admiral are down-to-earth, kind, capable, and dependable, and, in Austen’s words, “a most attractive picture of happiness” in their marriage.
Levin and Kitty (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina)
Anna and Count Vronsky, of course, are the main characters in Tolstoy’s epic romance, but let’s take a moment to remember the real MVPs.
Why we love them: After several false starts, ups, and downs, quarrels and failures, Kitty and Levin ultimately make it work. Instead of the steamy, stormy affair of the title character and her illicit lover, Kitty and Levin sacrifice their own needs for each other’s happiness. After a night of existential philosophizing and working with the serfs on his farm, Levin realizes that “he could not be mistaken. There were no other eyes like those in the world. There was only one creature in the world who could concentrate for him all the brightness and meaning of life. It was she. It was Kitty.” Kitty, in turn, recognizes his inner qualities and learns to love him in a deeper, purer way.
Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series)
The Harry Potter fandom is full of ‘shippers—some more plausible than others, but a relationship that JK Rowling got absolutely right is that of Bill and Fleur. They only show up in a few of the books, but they’ve left a forever impression on our hearts.
Why we love them: Bill and Fleur meet as teens at school, then grow up to get married and fight evil together. Bill was an edgy, rock-star dragon tamer type, with long hair and one fang earring; Fleur was the queen of her social circle, brilliant, talented, and part veela. When Bill was injured by Fenrir Greyback, Fleur remained fiercely loyal, despite opposition from Bill’s family and his permanent scarring. They married and settled in a windswept cottage on the coast of Cornwall—the border between their two native lands. Shell Cottage seems non-descript but played a crucial role in the defeat of Voldemort as important characters sheltered there to re-group. We all cry a little to remember that Dobby is buried there still.
While we all love a good scandal, it’s much easier to relate to the obscure, everyday folks who make their relationship work. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your own love life, look no further than these underrated but powerful couples from literature. Which one(s) do you relate to the most?
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About The Blogger
Sarah Beach is a writer, editor, and researcher with an intense need for herbal tea. She writes about a variety of subjects, including social media, mental health, memes, and holistic wellness. Sarah is a graduate student in the field of Communication Studies and teaches rhetoric. She is also a registered Reiki practitioner and enthusiastic ukulele player. When she’s not writing, you can find her wandering aimlessly outdoors or watching period dramas.
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