Classic love stories are often passionate in content and never fail to appeal to the romantic in all of us. Whether ancient or modern in text, love stories never go out of season. The best tales of true love show the trails and successes that couples have to overcome to be together. Excitement, jealously, sacrifice, commitment and passion are all emotions of love that make these stories popular among all age groups. Here you will find summaries and resources from famous love stories, each portraying the true meaning of love in their own way.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is the classic love story of two young “star-crossed lovers” destined by fate. Written by William Shakespeare, the tragic tale tells the story of two teenagers from feuding families. Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight and marry soon after. Due to circumstances beyond their control, they realize that they can never be together and ultimately unite in death. The story ends with an elegy for the two lovers: “For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Cleopatra and Mark Antony
The story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is a memorable one, dramatized by William Shakespeare and performed on stages all over the world. True love between the couple is tested when their powerful positions outraged the Romans. Cleopatra and Mark Antony marry despite the threats. While at battle with the Romans, Antony received false news that Cleopatra had died. Heartbroken from the news, Antony fell onto his own sword. Cleopatra sacrificed her own life after learning of the death of her true love.
Lancelot and Guinevere
Arthurian legend tells the tragic love story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. Love slowly grows between Lancelot and Guinevere, King Arthur’s wife. One night, Sir Modred, Sir Agravain and a band of twelve knights burst into the queen’s chamber and catches the two lovers together. Guinevere was condemned to burn to death for her crime of adultery. Sir Lancelot saves her from the fire but the ordeal is not without consequence. The Knights of the Round Table become divided and King Arthur’s kingdom weakened.
Tristan and Isolde
Tristan and Isolde is a medieval tale that takes place during the reign of King Arthur. Isolde, the daughter of the King of Ireland, was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. King Mark sent his nephew, Tristan, to escort Isolde back to him but during the trip, the two fell in love. While Isolde married King Mark, she continued her love for Tristan. Tristan was banned to Brittany and soon remarried. After Tristan falls ill, he sends for Isolde in hope that her love will cure him. Tristan dies before Isolde could reach him and her death soon follows from a broken heart.
Paris and Helen
Homer’s “Iliad” tells the legend of Helen of Troy and Paris, son of King Priam of Troy. Helen of Troy was married to the King of Sparta, Menelaus. Paris fell in love with Helen and took her back to Troy after abducting her. Led by Menelaus’s brother, Agamemnon, and a great Greek army, the group went to retrieve Helen. She returned safely back to Sparta and Troy was destroyed. Helen of Troy and Menelaus lived happily thereafter.
Odysseus and Penelope
Greek couple, Odysseus and Penelope, sacrifice for love in this tale of devotion. After being tragically torn apart, the lovers wait a long twenty years before being reunited. Shortly after their marriage, war separates Odysseus and Penelope once again. With little hope that her husband will return to her, she continues to resist the many suitors who are anxious for her affection. Odysseus too resists these urges, turning away a beautiful sorceress who offers him eternal youth and everlasting love. He waits for the day to return home to his true love and son.
Layla and Majnun
Medieval poet, Nizami of Ganje, is best known for his poem of unattainable love, “Layla and Majnun.” The story begins when Layla and Majnun fall in love at school only to be pulled apart. Qays banishes himself to live among the animals in the desert due to his misery. He befriends Bedouin, an elderly who promises Layla’s hand. While Layla’s tribe is defeated through warfare, her father refuses the marriage to Majnun. Layla marries another. After the death of her husband, Bedouin sets up a meeting between Majnun and Layla. The pair never fully reconciles but is laid side by side upon their death.
Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy
Two important attributes, pride and prejudice, are portrayed in the classic tale of Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth comes from a modest family that received no schooling and little structure. Darcy comes from a high social hierarchy and educated background. He falls in love with Elizabeth only to be pushed away from her. Later, she realizes that she could never love another the way that she loves Darcy. The two become united through love and understanding.
Salim and Anarkali
Son of Emperor Akbar, Salim falls in love with the ordinary Anarkali at first sight. The emperor did not approve of his son with the likes of the simple courtesan. Anarkali becomes pressured by the emperor to fall out of love with the prince. When Salim hears of his father’s betrayal, he declares war against him. Salim is defeated by his father’s mighty army and is sentenced to death. Anarkali intervenes and saves Salim. She is entombed alive into a brick wall in front of Salim.
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Teenager Mumtaz Mahal marries Shah Jahan, emperor of the Mughal Empire, in 1612. She gave birth to 14 of his children and became Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. After her death in 1629, the emperor had 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants and over 20 years’ time to build a monument in her honor. It was known as the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was never able to finish the mausoleum he had planned for himself. He spent his final days imprisoned in the Red Fort of Agra, staring at the monument dedicated to his love. His body was buried beside her in the Taj Mahal.
Marie and Pierre Curie
Marie and Pierre Curie bonded through their dedication to science. In 1891, Marie traveled to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. Director of one of the laboratories that Marie had worked at, Pierre caught the attention of his soon-to-be wife. After several marriage proposals, the pair was finally married in 1895. Marie and Pierre won the Nobel Prize for Physics and discovered radioactivity. After Pierre’s death, Marie went on to become the first person to win a second Nobel Prize. She died of leukemia in 1934, fueled in life by the memory of her beloved husband.
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