One of the best things about reading classic literature has got to be the #relationshipgoals. Yeah, yeah, there’s the beautiful language and the timeless lessons — but there’s also the dreamy love stories and the old-fashioned traditions. This was love before Tinder, people — and it was adorable.
Or was it? They may not have had negging, ghosting or dick pics sliding into their DMs — but they didn’t have gender equality either. On a closer look, even some of the most beloved classical love stories can be hella problematic. A lot of these relationships were founded on some pretty outdated ideas — and in a world where couples tended not to live together before marriage, they probably didn’t know each other very well either.
Out of fear of being eaten alive by Elizabeth-and-Darcy ‘shippers, I’m not even going to touch the mega-popular Pemberley couple, so I’ll leave you to decide for yourself whether they would have stuck it out through year after year of seriously tense family gatherings. (I can’t imagine Darcy would ever have great banter with the Bennets, can you?)
But relax, I’ll leave them to their idyllic future and turn my attention to some couples that definitely would never have made it work. They might have seemed sweet in the novels — but I predict a lot of divorce papers in these couples’ futures…
Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility
I know, I know: I want to love this couple. Especially after seeing the film version, in which Alan Rickman was uncharacteristically romantic as Colonel Brandon, it's hard not to adore the idea of these two lovebirds working it out. But I'm afraid to say, I just don't think this relationship would have lasted. Marianne was always so heated and passionate; sure, her heartbreak over Willoughby forced her to grow up a lot — but sooner or later, that little spark that longed for something more exciting was bound to re-emerge. And Brandon only liked Marianne in the first place because she reminded him of his first lost love. This relationship feels an awful lot like settling on both sides.
Amy and Laurie from Little Women
This one shouldn't take any convincing; Laurie and Amy are a terrible couple. Laurie was in love with Jo for pretty much their entire childhoods; aside from Jacob Black and Renesmee Cullen, this is the ickiest pairing of all time. In fact, all of the relationships in Little Women are terrible: Meg ends up with a husband whose old fashioned patriarchal values leave her crying in the kitchen when she doesn't manage to get dinner on the table in time, and Jo marries a conservative bore who criticizes her writing and would never have allowed her to be the "reformer" she always planned to be, changing the world with "brickbats and hooting."
I wouldn't place bets on any of these pairs, but Amy and Laurie have got to be the worst — if only because Amy literally calls him "My Lord." Yuck.
Marius and Cosette from Les Miserables
I have exactly zero patience for literary couples that fall in love at first sight. Marius and Cosette know nothing about each other before they decide to derail their entire lives for each other — and that kind of impulsive behavior just makes me think they'd be equally quick to sign those divorce papers without a second thought.
Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast
Er, can you say Stockholm Syndrome? At one point in their future, Belle is bound to get tired of constantly having to teach her Beast-turned-Prince not to lose his temper, shout at her, or, you know, lock her up in a dungeon with a set of really rigid rules about what to wear and when to eat. The Beast learns a lot from Belle, but girl, there are limits. Surely Belle's extensive reading has shown her some dreamier guys to lust over — and one day, that beautiful little daydreamer is going to go waltzing off in search of one of them.
Romeo and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet
I don't even know where to start with this one. There's the fact that Romeo is clearly an immature teenager who becomes instantly smitten with every girl he meets; five minutes before meeting Juliet, he was totally hung up on her cousin, Rosaline. And there's the fact that Juliet is only about 14 years old, and is clearly not capable of making great decisions about who to spend her entire life with.
But more than all of that, there's one key thing this couple is missing: communication. R.I.P., Romeo and Juliet, R.I.P.
Image: 20th Century Fox; Columbia Pictures; zaynomlinson/Tumblr; Giphy (3)