“Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs.”
— William Shakespeare
Aah what a noble thought. Like him or not, but we can’t deny the fact that Shakespeare never failed to capitulate this silly fluttery emotion of love in the wittiest manner possible. If you are an avid reader then you may be well aware of the different time eras in which the western literature is divided into. In case you are not, even then you will ascribe to this article as it is going to address the evolution of love in the literary pieces.
“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet,” Plato once said. No doubt, he was a wise man. Tracing the era of Shakespeare, we may understand love through the bitter dose of tragedy. Love may or may not triumph all but it was on the face of it not an easy task. Romeo and Juliet is a classy example of the same. We may draw a pattern out of all these classics as the lovers interacted only once or they saw each other only once and that’s all it took for them to fall in love.
I don’t get it how; apparently they had a really fine eye. Next step was the accidental meetings during which their love blossomed. Most of the time, the union was contradicted on the grounds of class and society which eventually led to a tragic end. All this makes you feel that maybe you just have to die to make your love immortal. That’s harsh. Then we also have the famous Sonnet 55 of Shakespeare ‘Not marble or the gilded monuments’, which gave the idea of timelessness of the love. The bars have been set too high for any mortal to live upto the great expectations of the Shakespearean love.
Moving ahead in time, let’s talk of Renaissance. Discoveries were being made and the west was progressing at a great pace. We had poets like John Donne, Andre Marwell, etc. as the Human became more aware of the mortality and physicality of humans. The literature became more vocal about the sexuality of humans. People were motivated by the idea of seizing the day rather than waiting and letting things happen on their own. Taking charge of their own fate and breaking the stereotypes. That were the ideas back then which marked a giant leap in the literature too. Love was materialized a bit and it was oriented in a raw form. The basic sexual needs of humans were worded in poems and novel and the classic idea of love was shoved back a little.
The novelists like Austen, on the other hand, began focusing on female protagonists. Love was described through the lens of the female narrator. A parallel can be drawn in her writings and that of Shakespeare. They both focused on the women and the plight of love when it happens between mates belonging to contrasting classes. Love was still shy and coy, it happened through stolen glances, exchanged handkerchiefs and talks of poetry and music. The times when a kiss on the hand was enough.
Talking of the Romantic time period, it is quite evident that love must be the central theme of the era. It is apparently true but not in the exact sense. Keats, Wordswoth did not fall within the ambit of the term ‘romantic’ as we know today. They were known the Romantics because they were revolutionaries.
It was the time when industries were coming up and everyone was falling into the workaholic lifestyle. It were these romantics to refused to live the monotonous life and moved to the jungles and country sides. To live closer to nature. For them, romance was falling in love with nature. They metaphorically related every act of their lover or even their memories with nature. Daffodils, Ode to the West Wind, To Autumn are best examples of Romantic poetry.
Coming to the modern and postmodern era, it becomes rather difficult draw a pattern. Mostly because writers now a days love to collaborate their ideas of romance with the older ones and produce literature which is fresh yet giving a sense of nostalgia. Romance is now divided according to the age group. We may find novels like Eleanor and Park where love happens over exchange of comic books and mix tapes. Then we have Nicholas Sparks who has fancied our imagination by bringing back the basics of love through its timelessness. We have erotic literature for adults which recognize the sexual aspect of love in undisciplined terms.
I, for one feel, that though the ways of falling in love have changed but the basic essence remains the same. We may find our story relating to some old tale but all in all the love remains fresh as a daisy no matter what. You may not find a lover at a ball but yet you may him/her at 1 am at McDonalds’. You may not find your guy carrying a shoe that will fit you at your place buy you may find him at some Adidas showroom.
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
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