Love in Literature

Topics: Love, Greek words for love, Philosophy of love Pages: 7 (2470 words) Published: May 3, 2013
Love in Literature
We live in a complex world, where love and logic do not always exist cohesively, however, literature often brings these two elements together. Authors sometimes use the concept of love as a theme for their work, logically, and methodically using it as a tool in their writing. The different forms of love are often used by authors as a catalyst for positive character development. In this essay, works by different authors will be used to demonstrate some of the forms of love used in literature. In Simon May’s “Love: A History”, May mentions agape love, defining it, stating that “This love is compassionate and giving: the love of neighbor shown by the Good Samaritan” (May pg.177). The use of agape love as a catalyst for positive character development is evident in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”. The narrator of the story, who is ignorant and closed–minded, encounters a blind man whose name is Robert. Robert recognizes the narrators closed-mindedness, but is not repelled by it, in fact he seems drawn to the narrator. Robert helps the narrator to open his mind to the world, and to see more than just what is there but to also see the beauty of it. The narrator is transported out of his mind “I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Carver pg.525). Robert’s actions can be seen as an act of agape love, he could have allowed the narrator to stay in his self-imposed blindness. In Kirk Nesset’s essay “Insularity and self-enlargement in Raymond Carver's Cathedral”, the writer also expostulates about Raymond’s act of kindness “The subject of their mutual efforts‑‑the cathedral‑‑as a symbol represents a kind of common humanity and benevolence, and of human patience and fortitude” Robert’s act of love causes the narrator’s mind to transcend to a new level. Familial Love, is the type of love between family members, such for example the love between parent and child or between siblings. This type of love is evident in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”. In this short story the narrator takes in his estranged younger brother, Sonny, after his stint in prison. In the beginning of the story the narrator is indifferent towards Sonny and also dissatisfied with his own life. The narrator, although having grown up with Sonny does not understand, nor can he relate to him. It is only after he makes a conscious decision, out of love for his brother, that he makes an effort to understand who Sonny is. Sonny’s passion for music defines who he is as a person, and the narrator having never seen his brother play, never understood the depth of his love for music. At the end of the story, we realize that through Sonny sharing his music and therefore, essentially himself, the narrator has come to a point of forgiveness and acceptance of who is brother is and also a sort of epiphany concerning his own life. The narrator who was once dismissive of Sonny has now taken on the role of a benevolent guardian, James Tackach also voices this in his essay “The Biblical Foundation of James Baldwin’s "Sonny’s Blues"” when he says “And his older brother, the narrator, is carefully and lovingly watching over him, serving as his brother’s keeper” (Tackach) Romantic love, is one which is used very often in literature, and usually the change in the character is very obvious. We see this in Anton Chekov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog”. In this story, Dmitri encounters Anna Sergeyevna, a young and naive married woman on vacation. Dmitri is unhappy in his marriage, adulterous, and a misogynist. The two meet, have an affair, and fall in love. Although the affair is morally reprehensible, we can definitely see a positive transformation of Dmitri’s character, whereas he was a man who despised women and used them for his sexual gratification, he now feels that he cannot live without this woman. In the beginning of the story Dmitri’s outlook on life was dour, and now that he is in love with Anna Sergeyevna, he is the positive one...

Cited: May, Simon. Love: A History. 1st ed. Great Britain: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.
Nesset, Kirk
Tackach, James. "THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION OF JAMES BALDWIN 'S "SONNY 'S BLUES"."Renascence. 59.2 (2007): n. page. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.
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