Tragic Love Stories

Yet another Valentine’s Day looms beneath the horizon, and for some of us, the fatal sunrise will mark nineteen years of loneliness. Or, conversely, nineteen years spent dedicated to one’s own well-being. Whatever the case, whether you adore the saint’s sanctified holiday, or you abhor Cupid’s copy and pasted face plastered all over the walls, everyone loves a good, tragic love story. With romance for the saps and calamity for the skeptics, these stories are sure to throw some feelings your way tomorrow while curled up on the couch.

 

Romeo and Juliet

I know, I know. But I promised tragedy, and there are many people who would be upset if these star-crossed lovers did not make the list. So, let’s knock them out early and get to the meat of the literary canon.

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Wuthering Heights

Ah, poor Heathcliff and Cathy. Forever doomed to roam the moors together after death, haunting one another for eternity, they would have it no other way. But let’s get real, Edgar Linton suffers the real loss in this novel. Forever unresolved, his love story rests in the ground near his corpse—albeit, blocked by Heathcliff’s, naturally.

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Beloved

There are more kinds of love than romantic, and Toni Morrison’s exploration of the lingering effects of generations worth of repression explores them all. Happiness exists within Beloved’s pages as fleeting moments designed to fall apart, and the most tragic moment is when the reader realizes the story ends precisely where it starts.

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The Bell Jar

Not a typical novel to appear on such a list, but the number one goal of Valentine’s Day in these times is to avoid being basic. So, we turn to Sylvia Plath, of course. The Bell Jar chronicles one girl’s journey of self-discovery while trapped inside the confines of her own mind. Less a love about romance (although there is a little), and more about learning to love one’s self, the weight of Esther’s opinions about humanity and her place within it is enough to break anyone’s heart.

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Orpheus and Eurydice

Perhaps the original why-did-you-do-that-it-could-have-been-so-simple love story, our favorite musician Orpheus descend into the depths of the underworld to retrieve his beloved wife against all odds. Charming the beasts that inhabit the world beyond, not to mention the immortal god Hades and his temporal bride, Eurydice was granted re-entry into the realm of the living. Orpheus had one job: to not turn around. That’s all, and he could have had eternal happiness. Instead, he wanders the woods alone until a crazed fandom of nymphs tears his eyes out.

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