Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)
I’m not a fan of romances, but it turns out there are some I can’t help but adore. Romanticism and the Victorians take the stage this time! (Tbh, most of these are not healthy at all.)
1. Catherine and Heatcliff (Wuthering Heights)
So much angst in this one! Both Cathy and Heathcliff have their issues, and they are not exactly likable (especially Heatcliff). However, they are well-rounded, complex characters and they have reasons for their actions, though that doesn’t necessarily justify them. This love story is more than a love story, and that’s what made it a classic.
2. Lestat and Louis (The Vampire Chronicles)
Don’t you dare tell me theirs is not a love story! And it’s angsty as hell. Louis is angsty in general, actually. 😄
3. Batsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak (Far From the Madding Crowd)
This is the only positive one on this list, I think. 😄 The relationship between these characters develops slowly, and unlike most Victorian male characters, Gabriel is actually a nice guy.
4. Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky (Anna Karenina)
There is so much pain, misfortune and angst in this love story… Most of you probably know what happens but I’m still not going to say much, because I don’t want to spoil anything to anyone. This book is wonderful, and it rings very true even today. I do have some problems with Tolstoy’s portrayal of an “ideal” love – Kitty and Levin – but I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
P.S. I actually really liked the 2012 film with Keira Knightley, though most people seem to disagree. The fact that it was filmed in a theatre is a nice way to express how people wear masks and play the roles they are supposed to (actually the roles the society expects of them). It was very artistic.
5. Werther and Lotte (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Werther’s one-sided love for Lotte was the one that started (or at least made popular) a lot of literary tropes, so I had to include it. Readers identified with Werther so much that many young men comitted suicides just like he did – yes, a wave of suicides happened after the publication of this book. Sometimes the influence of books can be horrible. And even though Goethe strongly criticized the Romantic movement later on, he still said:
It must be bad, if not everybody was to have a time in his life, when he felt as though Werther had been written exclusively for him.
I’ll leave it to you to decide if you agree with this. 😉
Honourable mention: Countess Ellen Olenska and Newland Archer (The Age of Innocence)
Apparently, I don’t like romance at all! I wouldn’t call this relationship romantic, but it is very angsty – and I really wanted to include it so I’m putting it as an honourable mention. Newland falls for Countess Olenska, or to be more precise he becomes obssesed with her. She knows their relationship is doomed, but cannot help falling for him, too. Tragedy ensues…
What did you think of these books? Do you find these angsty couples as influential as I do?