Love is one of the most universal themes in literature. It can be as much of a negative force as it can be a positive one. Love can be brilliant, but it can also be toxic. Love can drive one to cause harm to self or others, just as much as it can guide one to protect those around them or generate selfless acts of kindness. On the one hand, sacrificing self for others, on the other, sacrificing others for self!
Sub-themes that fit under this category.
FORBIDDEN LOVE: Passion collides with condemnation and often ends in tragedy. Absolutely everyone uses the example of Romeo & Juliet, so shall I try another example? Let’s explore one that I absolutely can’t stand! (No offense to anyone who likes this story, personally I just don’t.) In The Scarlet Letter, Hester thinking her husband is dead, sleeps with the minister, Dimmesdale, and they have an illegitimate child. Give me an “A” for Adultery… She then has to bear the burden of wearing a big red letter for the rest of her life. She doesn’t tell anyone who the father is in order to protect him, and being a man of the church, he keeps it a secret, as well, to protect himself. The coward!
FAMILY LOVE: Love between siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandkids… usually makes for a sappy, feel-good story, but more often than not, these stories often explore the downside to family loyalties, such as in The Godfather. If you’re a Corleone, you’re pretty much entrenched in the family business of drugs, violence, and other organized crime. There is no “following your dreams” or “pursuing the career you love”. Don’t make any plans, because you aren’t going anywhere!
UNREQUITED LOVE: Oh, the heartbreak of loving someone who doesn’t love you in return. We’ve all been there, right? A fine example is The Hunchback of Notre Dame (not the cartoon!) It’s chock-o-block with unrequited love. Frollo loves Esmeralda to the point of holding her captive, Esmeralda loves Phoebus, but he is engaged, Quasimodo loves Esmeralda, but she is repulsed by his deformity, Phoebus pretends to love Esmeralda, but she knows he doesn’t. Whew, that’s a whole lot of messed up love!
FRIENDSHIP: Sancho Panza & Don Quixote, Elizabeth & Charlotte, Horatio & Hamlet, Frodo & Bilbo, Charlotte & Wilbur, Calvin & Hobbes, Thelma & Louise (oh, well, that wasn’t a piece of literature, but you get the idea.) Friends ’til the end. Bosom buddies. Bromances. BFFs. When all else has failed your MCs, they can always rely on their friends, even the wicked ones. Whether they are traversing an epic journey together with no end in sight, have a common love interest, or helping each other bury a body, friends are there for better or worse, sometimes challenging the MC to become a better person, sometimes dragging the MC down into the muck of a life full of drama, sometimes just being there to offer a helping hand. A friend can be the catalyst that saves the MC from a horrible death or send them into despair by stealing the one they love.
This, my friends, is the main theme of my novel, The Eversteam Chronicles – Book One. Love in the form of Friendship and Compassion. Penelope, Heathrow, Dorje, & Patch must travel through Hell, literally. In the process, they learn much about themselves. Closed hearts open, cynicism transforms into compassion, timidity becomes lifesaving wrath.