The great classics of literature express values contextualized with the era and cultural references in which the works were written. Many great novels have given us love advice that is often unacceptable and criticizable. In fact, many of the situations considered normal in that era today risk not being current or worse, not respectful of a healthy love relationship. However, the strength of these novels lies in the fact that although the culture has changed, the “bad” behaviors continue to exist and persist.
In this lies the greatness of the classics of literature, timeless works, creations of women and men animated by a universal spirit able to understand the vices and virtues typical of man (and women).
We wanted to select the worst love advice that comes from the authors of the great classics of romantic literature, driven by a moment of reflection that may appear light, but which actually reveals all the importance of books. Books are knowledge, they are the best life companions to face daily life in the best possible way. Books are an atlas of human attitudes and behaviors. They can be the navigator to guide our choices in the best direction..
Here are the worst love advice taken from the great classics of world literature
1) Don’t worry, there will always be another opportunity
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Among the worst love advice this is the one that leaves room for different interpretations. In reality, many times these do not exist. While all the readers of the world celebrate the longed-for union between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, we need to pause for a moment on this aspect. Their relationship is completely atypical and unlikely. In fact, the heroine of “Pride and Prejudice” spectacularly refused a previous marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy, listing to him all the reasons why she, moved by revulsion, refused him.
At the end of the story, the two meet again, are reconciled and will (perhaps) live happily ever after. But in the vast majority of cases this would never have happened. In fact, it must be remembered that in love, second chances are not always granted, that wounded pride hardly forgets and forgives. Be careful what you say, and what it can mean to the other.
2) Can you be happy with a man who asked for your sister’s hand? Are you really convinced?
.Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
At the end of “Little Women,” Amy marries a man who has proposed marriage to one of her sisters, and who has had a tormented history with yet another sister. If this type of situation might not have caused particular disappointment in the year 1868, we suspect that today many women would have more than a hesitation in being together with an ex of their sister.
3) Appearances are everything
.Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This seems to us to be among the worst of love advice. In Tolstoy’s masterpiece, the protagonist’s aristocratic husband refuses to grant her a divorce to safeguard her prestige within the elite of Russian high society. Due to their public image, Anna and Aleksei become trapped in a loveless relationship with infidelity galore.
Today’s society is different, maybe you even get divorced too easily instead of committing to face situations, but you certainly don’t sacrifice your happiness on the altar of appearances.
4) Behave badly and do your worst, everything will work out the way you want in the end
Emma by Jane Austen
Among the advice of love this is surely to be condemned. Emma, the protagonist of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name, has a negative behavior for the whole affair. Emma is manipulative, meddles in other people’s relationships, responds in an inappropriate and cruel way to her friends, refuses to listen to the reproaches of those who accuse her – rightly – of behaving inappropriately.
Everything seems to suggest that Emma doesn’t deserve a happy ending. And instead she finds a handsome and wealthy husband! Somehow she also manages to get her friend Harriet of hers to marry a generous man, from whom she actually already rejected a previous marriage proposal. But she… guess who made her refuse at the time? An unbearable character who behaves very badly. And as a reward, she ultimately gets what he wants. Where is the justice?
5) Love and a short memory: how to ignore a lifetime of bad choices
. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
In “Jane Eyre,” Edward Rochester’s character brings with him a lifetime of bad – very bad – decisions, including locking up his crazy, arsonist wife in the attic. He continues his path of questionable decisions when he tries to induce the protagonist Jane Eyre to a “bigamous” marriage (unbeknownst to her, too).
Yet, in the novel’s finale, the girl returns to him with open arms, forgetting Rochester’s subterfuges, lies and not exactly unassailable choices in the course of his life. And she doesn’t care if he no longer has a castle because his crazy wife set it on fire and Rochester was left blind and mutilated in the fire. A very romantic ending, but totally unlikely. Can a girl really forget all this?
6) Getting married for the wrong reasons? And what’s the problem?
.Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Getting married for money or for revenge. Scarlett O’Hara did it three times and she almost got it! The protagonist of “Gone with the wind” gets married three times: the first out of spite, the second for money, the third… for even more money!
While this behavior was allowed (perhaps even encouraged!) in the past, and while many women still do, it’s common knowledge in today’s society that the only reason one should marry is for love.
7) The romance of obsession. Or simple stalking?
.The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
From a literary point of view it can be argued that “The Great Gatsby” is or is not a novel comparable to the genre of romantic literature. What cannot be denied however is the fact that it tells a great love story.
But it would also be appropriate to debate whether falling in love with the protagonist isn’t actually an obsessive behavior, bordering (perhaps beyond?) stalking… is it really advisable to keep the behavior of the mysterious Jay Gatsby, moved by the purity of his love? Is it no longer a disease?
8) Be honest with your feelings? Crazy stuff!
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The central characters of “Sense and Sensibility”, the sisters Elinor and Marianne, in theory should represent the binomial of the title: reason (ability to analyze and good choices) and feeling (emotion and impulsive decisions). Marianna’s sensitivity is portrayed by Austen as her worst flaw ever since she openly confesses her love for her: her emotionality generates several problems for her relationship, but in today’s world she could be seen as a quality.
In Austen’s time, public expression and discussion of one’s feelings were condemned, unlike today: only open dialogue and honest confrontation can solve problems.