4 Faces of Toxic Relationships in Literature
By Malia Keirsey
Imagine this: You are on your way to the nearest bookstore to find a new love story to read. While inside, you start walking through each aisle and scan through the pile of books written by different authors. Then you suddenly found a title that responded to you and immediately start reading the back page synopsis, get curious about this new love story you haven’t read yet. You buy that book and spend hours just to finish it early.
The first page piques your interest and you start living vicariously with these characters, and then you’ll realize it’s 4 in the morning and decide you’ll put down the book after reading the last page. Towards the last few chapters, you suddenly become sad because of the toxicity these characters give you.
Toxic relationships are a common plot in romantic novels like the illustrious story of Romeo and Juliet. These are stories that make your heart break that make you question “why it didn’t work out?” Here are 4 examples of characters from novels with toxic relationships...
1. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
Sure Edward Cullen may seem like the man of your dreams, but his relationship with a normal teenager Bella Swan was not at all, like a fairytale. Bella’s description of him through Meyer’s words was Edward’s a beautiful man.
Here’s the fast track of their relationship in the Twilight series: Bella arrived in Forks to live with the father. She became lab partners with a certain pale boy named Edward Cullen. They didn’t talk much to a point where Edward had to leave as soon as the bell rang. Bella saw something interesting in him, and in time the two got closer to each other.
But there’s a catch: Edward’s a vampire and Bella is total “not afraid” of him. Things got complicated when Edward’s kind started showing interest with Bella namely James, Victoria, and the Volturi.
In the second installation titled “New Moon,” Edward went MIA for months on Bella to supposedly save her life. She becomes close with Jacob, a childhood friend, who was revealed as a werewolf in the latter chapter. Vampires and werewolves do not get along with each other. Jacob starts showing feelings towards Bella, but she denies. A logical girl that she is, Bella starts chasing after Edward in Italy and meets the Volturi. The powerful clan of vampires frees Edward from his attempted suicide in the condition that Bella must become a vampire.
More toxicity happened in the third novel “Eclipse” when they started hunting down Victoria and formed the Jacob – Bella – Edward love triangle. Bella even kissed Jacob while in a relationship with Edward. In the end, Edward and Bella got hitched while Jacob imprinted on, no less than the Cullens’ immortal child, Renesmee. To top all the toxicity of this relationship, Bella almost died while giving birth to Renesmee.
2. Jaime Lannister and Cersei Lannister in George RR Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” series.
In all dimensions, an incest love affair is considered a taboo. First and foremost, they’re twins. Second, they live in a web of lies full of scheming and murders.
Their love story started in their childhood. It went on even after Cersei married King Robert Baratheon and became the queen of the seven kingdoms. Furthermore, Jaime cannot marry because of her duty to serve the King’s Guard.
- Jaime and Cersei’s toxic love affair gets complicated as time goes by. Here’s an incomplete timeline:
- They have three children while she is married to the King named Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen.
- Jaime pushed the young Brandon Stark from a windowed tower after the youngster saw them in an intercourse.
- While in King’s Landing serving as the Hand of the King, Eddard Stark discovered the twins’ love affair and threatened to tell the king. King Robert died ordered by Cersei, then Joffrey became King, who ordered to behead Neddard Stark.
- Joffrey dies and Tommen becomes king. In the television adaptation, the three children died tragically.
- Jaime starts to question Cersei’s manipulative nature, while Cersei tries to hold power in the Seven Kingdoms.
If that is not toxic enough for you, just be reminded that an incest love affair, both in the fictional Westeros and real life, is not an accustomed tradition and considered a cultural taboo.
3. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
One of the greatest and tragic love stories in history. The story is about family feuds, courtship, revenge, and fate. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet were victims of a teenage love affair. Their families are sworn enemies in their hometown.
Fast tracking their relationship: the two met in a ball, fell in love, and trademarked the famous “balcony scene.” Problems started when Juliet was forced to marry a different man named Paris. Juliet’s solution in escaping this fate is by drinking a sleeping potion to fake her death.
Sadly, Romeo received the wrong information and went to the family tomb where Juliet was placed only to find Paris. Romeo battles and kills Paris with a dagger. The devastated Romeo, who at this point was still unaware of Juliet’s plot, decides to kill himself by drinking a potion.
Juliet then wakes up and killed herself using Romeo’s dagger. Shakespeare’s story was so tragic, the protagonists’ love affair ended with the both of them in dead in each other’s loving arms.
4. David Levithan’s “Every day”
The novel is described as “Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.” Waking in up in someone else’s body each day, without given a choice, seems an impossible thing, but not for the book’s protagonist called “A,” who got accustomed to the life he or she didn’t decide on. A’s living fairly to not put someone’s body in danger and just living through the day and made guidelines:
- Never get too attached.
- Avoid being noticed.
- Do not interfere.
A abides to that guideline, but not until one day when A met and became smitten with Rhiannon, the girlfriend of one of A’s host body. She liked Rhiannon and thought her boyfriend was treating her bad. But things do not just come on a silver platter. A had to do drastic measures to get to know her more which was a rule breaker on A’s guidelines.
- A went to meet Rhiannon in a different body. She was surprised and didn’t believe A at first.
- A took the parent’s car of the body A is currently in to visit Rhiannon.
- A left the car on the street because A went on a different body
- A got in national television because of the incident
- A finally get the chance to make Rhiannon believe.
- Rhiannon got confused and avoided A.
- Rhiannon falls in love with A.
- A is happy.
- In the end, A arranged Rhiannon with someone else, which was the body he was in on that day.
David Levithan’s “Every Day” is a gender-binding novel that answers the question “what if.” It entails the idea of a toxic relationship due to the fact that the protagonist cannot be attached to his host or anyone. In the end, only Rhiannon found love for herself but the protagonist remained the way his life was set out for him.
Romantic novels are made to escape an entity or just for pure entertainment and pleasure. The stories these authors make are the once that make readers realize why love is so important in everyone’s life, and I quote F. Scott, Fitzgerald, “there are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” Truly, love is not all happiness—it includes sacrifices, effort, complications, and even tragedies.