❤️ It’s Valentine’s Day ❤️
Love is in the air, whether you adore the holiday or not.
Many bemoan the grandiose expectations the holiday puts on…well…everyone.
Don’t blame Hallmark.
Instead, look to fiction for insights into why this holiday has become a national obsession.
Love … Has Everything to Do With It
As Blake Snyder, Mr. Save the Cat!, used to say, “The motivating force of a story has to be primal.” And nothing is more primal than love. I’d go so far as to say that love is fiction’s greatest common denominator, that the roots of every story are based in love.
Whether it’s seeking love, giving love, protecting love, grieving for love, or the ugliness that springs from lack of love or unrequited love.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular stories of all time, because it resonates with humanity’s innermost core. Love.
Love’s Joyful Eccentricities
The romantic comedy (rom-com) is the popular love story of today. Shakespeare was the first to make that particular story type popular, though. Shakespeare wrote a total of 16 romantic comedies, earning him the title as the original Rom-Com King. Rossini, and other composers, carried the romantic comedy into the opera houses with great success. Later, Hollywood was quick to spin the romantic comedy into a film genre.
In children’s literature, the net of love stretches to include other species. For example, in The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, a young girl’s compassionate love for Ivan, the shopping mall gorilla, is the catalyst for his freedom.
Likewise, Ivan’s love for the elephants who are also trapped in the roadside shopping mall attraction sparks his imagination and fuels his actions that provide the means for the young girl to help them.
Spanning centuries, artistic mediums, and species…the love story has touched the hearts of audiences everywhere. To such a great extent, it has permeated the fabric of our consciousness. Such is the power of love. Because it’s primal.
Love’s Darker Faces
The primal motivating force of a character always comes back to love. “Even the villain?” you ask. Yes. Severus Snape, in J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, is a perfect example of denied love giving the character a villainous face.
Shakespeare’s dramatic plays reflect the darker facets of love, such as Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello. Jane Austen, thought by many to be the Queen of Romance in fiction, touches the sadder sides of love in her works, such as Persuasion.
Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments series is woven through with characters’ experiences and expressions of the grimmer facets of love, that sometimes grow so dark as to perpetuate murder. However, the main theme revolving throughout the series is self-acceptance.
The characters come to see and understand that the choices they make and the consequences that follow are a reflection of their level of self-love. This realization leads some through their darkness, to where they can embrace the healing power of love.