Romance Classic Literature
Many classic works of literature contain characters that are entangled in a romance. While the novel may not center around the romance, it’s one of the most memorable aspects of the story. There are many types of romances found in the novels and stories of classic literature. For example, a novel may begin with two characters who intensely dislike one another, but by the end of the book they are in love. Other classic novels contain two people who are in love from the start, but are clearly not meant to end up together. Regardless of what sort of romance a reader finds in a classic novel, it’s a good bet that the relationship will not be a smooth one. The following works of classic literature contain a memorable storyline of romance.
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
The main character of the novel is Clyde Griffiths. He is raised in a very religious, moral family who travels around preaching to people on the streets. As Clyde grows older, he longs for more excitement in his life. He leaves his family to work as a bellhop in a hotel. In his job at the hotel he sees the rich, adventurous lives that other people lead. He decides to travel to the home of a rich uncle who owns a business and ask for a job. He envisions that his uncle will help him to become a success. His uncle gives him a blue collar job in the business and that’s where Clyde meets a co-worker named Roberta. Both he and Roberta are lonely and they form a relationship. Later in the novel, Clyde meets Sondra, the beautiful daughter of a rich businessman (a friend of Clyde’s uncle). Clyde sees a glorious future with Sondra filled with money and prestige. This dream of life with Sondra is interrupted when Roberta tells Clyde that she is pregnant. Clyde must decide between continuing his romance with Sondra or fulfilling his obligations to Roberta.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This famous novel is centered around the Bennett family. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have five daughters named Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. Mrs. Bennett desperately wants to see her daughters marry well and tries to achieve this throughout the novel. Elizabeth has a sharp mind as well as an independent nature and is embarrassed at her mother’s attempts to marry her off. When Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy, a wealthy landowner in his upper 20s, she is put off by his arrogance. As the novel, goes on Elizabeth reluctantly gets to know more about Mr. Darcy and realizes she may have been hasty in her judgments.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
An American classic written in the mid-1920s delves into the obsession one character has for another. Before WWI started, the main character Jay Gatsby and a lovely young socialite named Daisy were falling in love. Daisy’s family disapproved of her relationship with Gatsby because he was poor. Soon, Gatsby went off to fight in the war leaving Daisy with a promise to return. After coming back home, Gatsby found that Daisy was married to a rich businessman. From that time on, Gatsby did all he could to earn money and become rich enough to rise to Daisy’s level in society. Gatsby bought houses, cars, and other items only if he thought they would be pleasing to Daisy. He even moved into a mansion across the way from hers just to be close to her. Gatsby knew if he built a life around her he could get her back and reignite their romance.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The novel’s main character Heathcliff met Cathy when he was taken in by Cathy’s father. Her father had found Heathcliff wandering around a busy city and felt sorry that he had no family. Heathcliff and Cathy grew up together on the moors of England. They were the best of friends and, then a romance developed between them. As Cathy grew older, she began to want the luxurious things of people belonging to high society. She loved Heathcliff, but wanted him to be more of a success so they could live together happily. Heathcliff tried to achieve success, but had little luck. When Cathy marries a wealthy man, Heathcliff becomes bitter and their relationship begins to change drastically.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The main character Anna Karenina is married to a cold man named Karenin who has an important government occupation. Anna is not happily married, but takes solace in her beloved young son. She soon meets a charismatic man named Count Vronsky who shows a flattering interest in her. They have an affair and eventually her husband Karenin becomes aware of it. Anna must decide if the romance with Count Vronsky is worth losing everything in her life.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This classic features one of the most memorable romantic storylines in literature. The story centers around the March family of four daughters Josephine (Jo), Meg, Amy, and Beth. All of the daughters form a friendship with their neighbor a young man named Theodore ‘Laurie’ Laurence. As the girls grow, Jo forms a special friendship with Laurie. Eventually the oldest daughter Meg gets married and Jo knows that she is expected to get married, but doesn’t want to. Meanwhile, she senses that Laurie’s friendship has grown into love for her. Jo must decide whether she will marry Laurie and live a life like her sisters or strike out on her own.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
An unforgettable story about two teenagers, Romeo and Juliet, who are from two very different families. They fall in love only to meet with disapproval all around them. The families face tragedy as they learn the depth of love these teenagers have for one another.
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
This novel begins with a woman reflecting on a romance that she never thought would happen. She recalls the story of meeting her future husband, Maxim DeWinter, and beginning a life full of new, exciting experiences. What she doesn’t expect is to have her romance thrown off track by Maxim’s deceased first wife! As the story unravels, readers learn whether the main character’s romance with Maxim will endure.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This novel is the story of the main character Ethan Frome and his love for a young woman named Mattie. When Ethan is a young man he wants to go away to school to study, then travel to see new places. Instead, he ends up taking the advice of others and marries a woman named Zeena. Zeena soon becomes sickly and Ethan finds himself taking constant care of her. He longs for a better life. One of Zeena’s relatives, a woman named Mattie, comes to live with them to help with Zeena’s care. She is energetic and makes Ethan feel alive again. Ethan and Mattie eventually begin a romance. Once again, Ethan is faced with deciding whether to live in a way he wants or do what society expects of him.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
At the beginning of the novel Mr. Dashwood passes away leaving his wife and daughters a modest yearly income. Elinor and Marianne are the two older daughters who are involved in the romances in this book. Marianne meets the dashing Willoughby and falls in love with his reckless ways. Elinor slowly falls in love with a man named Edward Ferrars who is secretly engaged to another woman. While Marianne is dealing with the whispers of the townspeople regarding her wild relationship with Willoughby, Elinor finds out about Edward’s fiancée. Elinor does what is right and backs away from her love for Edward though she is heartbroken. Marianne charges ahead in her romance with Willoughby though she comes to find out some secrets he is keeping. Both Dashwood daughters eventually find romance, but not on the path they expected.
More Recommendations for Romance Classic Literature
Adam Bede by George Eliot
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Fox by D.H. Lawrence
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Tale of the Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Washington Square by Henry James
The intriguing lives of the characters within these works are why a reader continues to turn the page. After all, it’s impossible to stop reading before learning how the romance turns out.
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