10 Literary Couples That Should've Hooked Up

If this Valentine's Day you find you're feeling a little low, or perhaps just plainly annoyed by this romantic holiday, take heart. Your one true love could still be out there, unlike these doomed literary couples who just couldn't make it work — torn apart by distance, society's ignorance, WWII, death... or the fact that they didn't even appear in the same novel.

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Jo and Laurie

One could go on for hours about Jo’s decision to reject her best-friend Laurie in Little Women. “We would argue all the time, we would kill each other, you’re like my brother, yadda, yadda, yadda.” Jo, how could you? It seems like a remarkably mature decision given the fact that Jo’s family is in desperate need of some of the Laurence dough. In the end, she falls for the German Professor Bhaer. For some, a less exciting choice.


Mrs. Dalloway and Sally

Let’s be real, Mrs. Dalloway’s one true love is her friend Sally. Sadly, Clarissa and Sally can’t live their love out in the open (it’s the early 1900s), and Clarissa ends up married to the boring Richard Dalloway. In one particularly tragic and beautifully written passage, Clarissa recalls her friend Peter stumbling upon Clarissa and Sally kissing when they were young. “It was like running one’s face against a granite wall in the darkness! It was shocking; it was horrible!”

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Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale

Technically, Hester and Dimmesdale, the lovers at the center of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, do hook up. Their union results in their child, Pearl, who is born while Hester’s husband, the tyrant Chillingsworth, was away. This is Puritan Boston and the locals brand Hester with the Scarlett ‘A’ for adultery. Dimmesdale, a minister, descends into a hell of guilt and self-loathing. Though Hester and Dimmesdale had their moment in the sun, they should have been able to build a life together, intolerant society be damned.

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Harry and Hermione

It should come as little shock that fans of the Harry Potter series have created an entire universe of fandom and relation-shipping where Harry and Hermione, rather than Hermione and Ron, end up together. It does seem a bit of a stretch that Hermione, super-serious and super-intelligent, would go for the goofy Ron. But maybe he makes her laugh?

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Cecilia and Robbie

Here be spoilers! British novelist Ian McEwan just about killed us when he created an epic love story between Cecilia, a well-born lady, and her family’s groundskeeper’s son, Robbie, in his 2001 novel Atonement. When Robbie is wrongly accused of molesting a young girl by Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, he’s sent to prison, then shipped off to fight in WWII against his will. But eventually he returns to Cecilia and they live happily ever after. EXCEPT NOT AT ALL because both Robbie and Cecilia were actually killed in the war and the entire novel is a work of fiction by Briony as a way to deal with her guilt. WHY GOD, WHY.

Frodo and Sam

Uh-huh. Lord of the Rings shippers have long celebrated the friendship — or love — whatever you want to call it, between Frodo and Sam. Sure, Sam ends up back in the Shire married to a woman, but maybe it’s more fun to imagine his love for Frodo is real… and unrequited.

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Charles and Sebastian

Within the theme of homosocial relationships, Charles and Sebastian’s in Brideshead Revisited really takes the cake. These two meet at Oxford and spend most of their lives entwined, though Evelyn Waugh never completely spells their relationship out as a romantic one. If they didn’t hook up, they certainly should have. Instead Charles ends up married to Sebastian’s sister. Whatever.

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Heathcliff and Catherine

Perhaps the greatest and most melodramatic unconsummated love affair in all of literature, in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights Heathcliff is adopted by Catherine’s family and at young age, the son of gypsies. Growing up together Heathcliff and Catherine basically fall in love. But no, she has to marry the horrible Edgar and before you know it she’s dead (by childbirth) and Heathcliff, weeping over her coffin, grows up to become a monster. At least they end up together in eternity? I guess?

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Willoughby and Marianne Dashwood

Perhaps if Willoughby hadn’t been such an awful cad in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, leading Marianne to believe he loved her and would marry her until he loses his inheritance and dumps her for a wealthy woman, their epic romance could’ve been one of literature’s greatest romances. But in the end, the brightest flames do burn out, and Marianne ends up with Colonel Brandon, a good man who is willing to go to the end of the earth for her.

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Esther Greenwood and Holden Caufield

Even though Esther lives in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Holden in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, these two crazy kids have an awful lot in common: psychological issues, resentment of phonies, white, upper-middle-class, well-educated, etc. On second thought, maybe a relationship between the two would be less of a good idea and more like World War III. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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