The concept of true love is based on the belief that to truly love someone you have to accept them for who they are (including their shortcoming and faults), put their happiness above your own (even if your heart is broken in the process) and that you will always love them even if they are not by your side.
In essence it is a self-sacrificing act wherein a person puts another person’s happiness and well-being above their own. For example in the poem “To my Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet she compares her love for her spouse as “more than whole mines of gold or all the riches that the East doth hold” (Bradstreet, 1). While such an example is archaic it does present itself as an excellent example of the value of true love for other people.
What must be understood though is that in recent years the concept of true has been adopted by popular culture as a needed facet in a person’s life. Various romantic comedies produced by Hollywood all portray characters that at one point or another exhibit tendencies akin to the realization that their life is incomplete without true love and that they should seek it out in the form of female or male character that has been provided as an embodiment of what true love should be.
Due to the influences of popular culture on modern day society this has resulted in more people believing in the concept of true love and actively seeking it out as a result. The inherent problem with this is that true love is an ideal that can be considered the embodiment of every single positive thing that can happen actually happening. In that a person that fits your idea of the perfect partner suddenly appears, that events lead the two of you to be together and that the end result is a classic happily ever after ending.
Unfortunately it must be noted that the concept of the “ideal” is based on the best possible action, event and circumstance actually happening. The fact remains that the real world, unlike in the movies, does not revolve around fortuitous circumstances and the supposed ideal is nothing more than a fanciful notion created by the movie industry.
For example in the story “Rose for Emily” it can be seen that the main character, Emily Grierson, goes to such lengths of retaining love that she murders Homer Barron in order to keep him by her side (Faulkner, 1). The reason behind this action is simple, by the time Homer Barron came into her life she couldn’t experience true love as we know it in the movies due to the effect of reality.
Due to this she creates the illusion of love which she wraps around herself. While most people don’t go to the lengths Emily had done it must be noted that they often follow the same pattern of developing the illusion of true love and retaining its idea. Since the concept of finding true love revolves around finding the ideal partner and that the ideal partner is nothing more than a fanciful creation it can be said that the reality of true love does not exist since it revolves around a fictitious notion and principle.
Understanding the Unrealistic Notion of True Love
In the story of Araby readers are introduced to the concept of an unrealistic idea of the embodiment of love wherein the narrator (in the form of a young boy) falls in apparent rapture at the sight of Mangan’s sister. Though she is never mentioned by name the line “I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: ‘O love! O love!’ many times”, shows that the boy indeed developed substantial feelings for her (Joyce, 1).
It fact it is suggested numerous times in the story that the boy thinks that what he feels is true love and this is exemplified by his action of offering to buy the girl some souvenir from the Araby fair. Yet once he gets there he encounters a full grown woman at a stand idly chatting with men on various nonsensical topics.
It is then that he comes to the realization that he had crafted for himself a false ideal and that what lay before him was an example of what he could gain in the future. It must be noted that in essence this particular encounter shows what happens when an “ideal” meets reality in that the boy had been so presumptuous in crafting an “ideal” for himself that he neglected to take into account the possibility of better things in the future.
The line “I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” is an indication of the point in the story when the boy comes to the realization that his ideal was false and that he only though that way because of his isolated world (Joyce, 1).
The story itself could be considered a microcosm of reality with Mangan’s sister acting as the concept of true love. The isolated nature of the idea of love developed by the boy in the story could be compared to the propagated concept of true love in movie industry wherein concepts related to the ideal partner as exemplified by various movies are in effect false when compared to the realities people face.
All too often people think of a person as their true love in an isolated fashion, conceptualizing in them in a world devoid of the interference of reality wherein their every move is considered lovely and perfect.
While such a concept is seen in numerous films it can be seen though that this particular point of view is usually false since when the outside world of reality is introduced people tend to see their “ideals” for what they really are and as a result their behaviors towards such loves usually change.
In essence it can be boiled down to true love being a fantasy created through the isolation of an individual from reality and as such can never be truly attained since once reality is introduced the fantasies diminish resulting in reality taking over banishing the illusion and subjecting people to the harsh truths that they neglected to see.
The Concept of Love itself is an Illusion
In the story bitch by Roald Dahl readers are introduced to the notion that passion incited through the creation of a simple chemical compound. This notion is actually symbolic of an ongoing thought that feelings of love are nothing more than illusion created by chemicals and hormones in the body that induce such feelings in order to propagate the species.
In fact various studies have do indeed show that love is a chemical reaction in the brain and as such if properly triggered through an outside source it can be assumed that this can in effect create the same feelings of love.
In fact the poem “Love is not all” by Edna St Vinven Millay says its best when she states that “Love is not all, is not meat or drink nor slumber nor roof against the rain”; from this it can be said that love is immaterial, nothing more than an illusion created by man (Millay, 1). For example in the story it can be seen that once males are affected by the chemical they all of sudden give into to primal urgings for procreation and don’t remember their actions afterwards (Dahl, 1).
Such an effect is suggestive of the fact that in essence people only consider love as love when there is a thought that tries to explain it. The loss of memory of events in the story is symbolic of the loss of thought and as a result the loss of the ability to associate a particular action with love.
In effect the story suggests that love itself is nothing more than a chemical reaction and that as logical individuals we try to justify it through other means that what it actually is. If this is so, the concept of true love itself is again proven to be nothing more than an illusion since it can be considered nothing more than a chemical and hormonal reaction rather than originating from some arbitrary and yet to be defined origin.
Faulkner, William. “Rose for Emily”.
Dahl, Roald. “Bitch”- Switch bitch”.
Bradstreet, Anne.“To My Dear and Loving Husband”
Millay, Edna.“Love Is Not All”