We chart the best (and most completely romantic) couples from literature
There are few greater pleasures in life than curling up by a warm fire, or stretching our lazy-limbs out on a hot summer’s day, completely spellbound by a novel about love, lust and impassioned arguments. Maybe it’s because reading a great literary love story is a little bit like living out our very own romantic encounters (except without all the real-life ups and downs) or perhaps it’s because we’re all just a bit nosy and we love to see how other people really master the whole relationship thing – even if they are just fictitious characters from a book.
Here are 8 of the most messed up, romantic, page-turning couples from literature, ever (spoiler-alert).
Scarlett and Rhett – Gone With The Wind
Scarlett O’Hara has a wealth of admirers in Margret Mitchell’s novel set in Confederate America, but her one true love is Rhett Butler, a war hero who eventually ends up as Scarlett’s third husband. Although we never really find out whether the couple will end up happy together, the journey they undertake from idyllic Southern plantations, to mourning for lost ones in post-war America has us rooting for them all the way.
Best line: ‘No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, by someone who knows what he’s doing.’
Estella and Pip – Great Expectations
Estella is arguably one of Dickens’ strongest female characters who rejects the notion of romance and warns Pip to stay away from her when the two are children. But Pip loves the thrill of the chase (don’t we all?) and when he rises in social stature and confidence, he pursues Estella even more -even when she marries the repugnant Drummle for money. Although the couple never end up married, Dickens brings the ending to a cute close and suggests that after all the heart-ache, Pip and Estella will eventually be together.
You can also see where Dickens features in our low-down of the best opening lines from literature ever written.
Best lines: ‘The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible.’
Ron and Hermoine – Harry Potter
Ever since these two were budding wizards back in the Chamber of Secrets, we knew they had a thing for each other. In a typical case of opposites attract, Ron was attracted to Hermione’s stubbornness and logical mind, whereas Hermione loved Ron for his passion and impulsiveness. Throw in a touch of adolescent angst and some magic, and you have a recipe for the most heart-melting of romances.
Best moment: It has to be the huge kiss the pair share at the Battle of Hogwarts in the final book The Deathly Hallows. ‘There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth…’
Cathy and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights
A dark and secluded spot on the Yorkshire moors is the setting for this tumultuous love story where the hot-headed Cathy and vindictive Heathcliff wreak havoc amongst their families as they indulge in a relationship of dark, twisted passion that eventually ends in tragedy. There’s also some casual racism, supernatural elements and a touch of grave-hopping which all makes for a gripping love story that broke boundaries in Bronte’s time in more ways than one.
Best lines: ‘Nelly I am Heathcliff…He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.’
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy – Pride and Prejudice
A classic love story centred around the witty, independent Elizabeth Bennet who resists caving to the social expectations of marriage in Georgian England whilst assisting her sisters with their own love lives. That all changes when a rich neighbour called Mr. Bingley moves into town, bringing with him the dashing-yet-irritable Mr. Darcy. Love, lust and drama unfolds for the Bennet sisters and of course Elizabeth’s disdain for Darcy eventually thaws which results in that much-sought-after proposal at the end of the novel.
Best line: The opener, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ is arguably the most famous literary line ever.
Jane and Mr. Rochester – Jane Eyre
In Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Jane Eyre is the possibly-telepathic orphan who has a tough time at boarding school before becoming a governess herself. Looking after the ward of the formidable Mr. Rochester, the two become close and he proposes to Jane. However after a dream she flees when she discovers he’s already married (although his wife is insane) and Jane refuses to be the mistress. After sleeping rough and finding some long-lost family and fortune, Jane returns to Rochester after another vision and discovers a fire has killed Rochester’s mad ex-wife and left him blind. The ending picks up a bit thought: Jane has a son, they adopt the girl Jane looked after and Rochester regains sight in one eye. Hurrah.
Best line: The happy ending could melt any heart ’To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.’
Romeo and Juliet – Romeo and Juliet
Perhaps the most famous lovers in literature and beyond, Romeo and Juliet have no become synonymous with romance – even though the pair met a desperate end. Shakespeare knew that nothing strengthened the passion of young love like breaking a few rules and so he created a couple from warring families the Montagues (Romeo) and the Capulets (Juliet). Murders, marriage and eventually mutual suicide in the throes of grief see that Shakespeare’s most famous love story is also one of his saddest.
Best lines: ‘Romeo, Romeo, whereforart thou Romeo?’ and ‘But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!”
Peeta & Katniss – The Hunger Games
Life is pretty hard for the characters in Suzanne Collins’ dystopian, autocratic country of Panem. Mainly because kids and teenagers get forced to fight each other to the death in a nationally-televised event. When Katniss and Peeta are put head-to-head in front of the whole of Panen, technically they should kill each other, after playing up to each other’s affections as well as the cameras to survive however, true love ends up blossoming. And whilst they both survive the initial Hunger Games, there’s a small matter of a revolution, political imprisonment, and a brainwashing to overcome before love can prevail.
Best line: ‘“You love me. Real or not real?” I tell him, “Real.”’ – (Mockingjay)
Who are your favourite couple? Tweet us at @marieclaireuk