No.1. Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë) Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights topping our list of the worst couples in literature? “Surely not?!” I hear you say. Isn’t Wuthering Heights a famous love story? Let me be clear, I adore the book. It is one of the most passionate and heartfelt novels ever written. But love takes many forms and this relationship … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature – No.1: Heathcliff & Catherine from Wuthering Heights
No.2. Angel & Tess and Alec & Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy) We continue our worst couples run down with Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. It is a remarkable novel, full of interesting things and wonderful writing. And no less than two rotten relationships. Spoiler alert! Angel and Tess: This relationship had a lot of promise, the couple are in … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature: Angel & Tess and Alec & Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles
No.3. Laura Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins) * * Spoiler alert – don’t read this if you haven’t yet read the book * * Oh dear – this marriage was spectacularly doomed from the start. The utterly broke Sir Percival Glyde can appear charming and gracious, but he’s actually a fraudster – in false possession of his title … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature: Laura Fairlie & Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White
No. 4. Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby (Charles Dickens) Spoiler alert! The only reason this marriage doesn’t happen is that Madeline’s father dies one hour before the ceremony is due to begin. But imagine if it had. She is a sweet-natured 18 year old beauty, while he is a 75 year old miser, not known to have ever performed a good deed … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature: Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby
No. 5. Bertha Mason and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre Spoiler alert! Clearly not a successful marriage. Bertha is insane, can’t be divorced and has pyromaniac and suicidal tendencies. Certainly she has her own story to tell (as imagined in Wide Sargasso Sea). It can’t help a marriage when wife number two is waiting in the wings before wife number one has left the stage. … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature: Bertha Mason and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre
No. 6. Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky from Anna Karenina Spoiler alert! OK – so your husband is as dull as a potato and Count Vronsky is handsome, charming and passionate. But you’re in Russia and look at the calendar – it’s 1873. This is not a relationship with good prospects. For Vronsky: Anna will disturb your well ordered life of affairs and pleasure. Your … Continue reading 11 worst couples in literature: Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky from Anna Karenina
No. 7. Arabella Donn and Jude Fawley from Jude the Obscure
Wonderful writing, but such a sad tale. Jude was the first adult book I ever read. Bromley Public Library. A strange choice really, especially given the ending! Even so, I could tell there was something magical about it. “But his dreams were as gigantic as his surroundings were small.” Poor Jude. Life just somehow got in the way.
In his late teens Jude meets and is seduced by Arabella. Jude’s first encounter with Arabella is when she interrupts his scholarly dreaming by throwing a pig’s penis at him. To some readers she is Trouble-With-a-Capital-T, to others she is a sympathetic character – good humoured, practical, emotionally intelligent. Arabella informs Jude that she is pregnant and the gentle Jude gives up on his dreams of a scholar’s life at Christminster (Oxford?) to marry her. When she then reveals that she was ‘mistaken’ about her pregnancy, Jude feels tricked and trapped. It is not a great beginning to marital bliss. Before long Arabella leaves for Australia where she remarries bigamously.