by Samantha Knoerzer • February 10, 2015 • Follow SamanthaKnoerze
Published in Book Facts • 20 comments
In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, here are a few of the most iconic book couples in book history:
1. Lancelot and Guinevere- Folk Legend
A fold legend story from the Medieval times, the story goes that Lancelot was the greatest knight of the knights of the round table. While serving the king, he quickly fell in love with Queen Guinevere. It is said that first one of your attempted to ignore him, but quickly fell for his charms and they became lovers. Many nights began to suspect there love affair, which led Lancelot having to fight and kill one in a challenge to keep his honor. However, rumors continued and one night 12 knights stormed Guinevere’s chamber and caught her in bed with Lancelot. Lancelot fought his way to safety, but Guinevere was captured in the escape. Finding out that Queen Guinevere was now being tried and condemned to burn for her infidelity, and slot attendants to rescue Queen Guinevere, but fails. After all the adventure, the story ends sadly with Lancelot ending his days as a hermit and queen Guinevere becoming a nun at Amesbury where she lived until death. Their love affair is said to be what was the catalyst for the destruction of the round table and King Arthur’s realm. Couple exists in many different versions of literature, which is what makes them iconic throughout history.
2. Abelard and Heloise- The Letters of Abelard and Heloise- Actual historical accounts
Mix this couple or interesting is the story is historical letters based on an actual couple bright together and separated through the pangs of love. It’s a love story that takes place, and is actually written and occurred during the Medieval times. Abelard begins as a friar who is hired to be a tutor for a young woman named Heloise. The soon fall madly in love and, because of Abelard’s profession, must keep their love a secret. The story is love letters conversing over their entire lives to each other as they try to fight the love that they have for each other. As the legend goes, their story ends in misery, with their love being revealed, Abelard shamed and castrated, and Heloise living out her life in a nunnery though it is believed that even then they continued to converse through letters until death. Their determination to keep their love alive is what makes them an iconic book couple.
3. Shahryār and Scheherazade- The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights– Legend
This is another story based on real historical people surrounded by many stories and legends. The legend goes that Shahryār was a king that ruled over the Persian Empire. After catching his first wife committing infidelity, he resigned himself to a life of marrying many wives, and beheading them after the first night of marriage. One woman, named Scheherazade outsmarted the King by, on their first night of marriage, telling him a fantastic tale and stopping the story before it could end, thus allowing herself to live another night to finish the tale. She continued to do this for 1001 nights, telling many stories. When she finally finished the last night, the king had grown to fall madly in love with her. It said that he spared her life, keeping her as his queen. Her stories were passed down and recorded as the One Thousand and One Nights tales. Both characters were present as characters in many of the tales, making their story an iconic couple present in literature.
4. Romeo and Juliet- Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
This seems like a classic choice for iconic book couples. Many of Shakespeare’s stories contain iconic couples, but none more then this famous couple. The children of two rival families in the town of Verona, Romeo and Juliet soon fall quickly in love after meeting at a party. The two, once finding out who their families are, get married in secret to bind their love. As the familiar story goes, Juliet is soon being forced to marry Paris by her parents. In an attempt to escape with her love, Juliet drinks a potion in order to fall in a deep sleep like death. Romeo, not getting her letter in time, believes her to be actually dead and drinks a poison and dies next to his love who is sleeping in her mausoleum. Juliet awakes from her fake death to find her love poisoned. Having left no poison for her, Juliet results to stabbing herself to death in order to be with her love. More tragic than the love story above, the two remain a classic love couple in literature throughout history.
5. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Though there are a few couples in this story, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s odd coupling is the most remembered. Starting the relationship off rocky with Mr. Darcy acting arrogant and refusing to dance with an outspoken Elizabeth, he soon becomes attracted to her intelligence and wit. Much happens in the story, with many people attempting to keep Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy apart through jealousy or refused acceptance of their coupling, including Mr. Darcy’s aunt who attempts who believing Elizabeth to be beneath Darcy’s class attempts to convince her to refuse Darcy’s advances. Being the strong minded woman that she is, Elizabeth refuses to be controlled, with a little while later Darcy asking for her hand in marriage. Elizabeth accepts and is married alongside her older sister Jane, who throughout the story is pursued by Darcy’s friend, Charles Bingley. Though the story has a happy ending for the couple, their struggle to get to that point is what keeps them remembered as an important book couple.
6. Gatsby and Daisy- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Back to tragic love stories, Gatsby and Daisy are a perfect example. In love during childhood, Gatsby goes to war making Daisy promise to wait for him. After the war Gatsby begins to build a fortune in order to be worthy of Daisy who is of a higher class. However, not hearing from Gatsby for many years, Daisy eventually marries Tom Buchanan. Many years later Gatsby returns and finds Daisy, moving across the water from her and throwing parties every weekend, hoping that she will arrive. His attempts fail until he meets his neighbor Nick Carraway who happens to be the cousin of Daisy. Using the assistance of Daisy’s friend Jordan Baker, Gatsby convinces Nick to invite Daisy for tea at his house. Gatsby also goes, where he is united with his love Daisy. The two begin to spend time together until Tom begins to grow suspicious. He eventually figures out about their secret love and, though he has had many affairs himself, attempts to pull them apart. He succeeds by blaming his mistress’ death on Gatsby, though it was Daisy who accidentally hit her with the car. Tom tell his mistress’ husband that Gatsby is to blame, ending with the husband killing Gatsby at his home. Daisy and Tom move away, in an attempt to restart their life somewhere new. The entire story is told by the cousin Nick Carraway, and has nothing but tragedy and struggle throughout the couple’s history together.
7. Catherine and Heathcliff- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Another odd coupling, this story revolves around a love story between two people surrounded by dark plots of hatred and revenge. An orphan boy named Heathcliff comes to live with a family where he soon falls in love with the daughter of the household, Catherine. Loved quickly by the father of the household, Heathcliff becomes a second son to the man, which makes the man’s real son, Hindley, jealous. Hinkley is sent away, but after his father’s death comes back and treats Heathcliff as a poor laborer. Catherine in aspirations for a higher class, marries another man named Edgar, fighting her love for Heathcliff. After Hindley’s death, Heathcliff inherits Wuthering Heights and attempts to win Catherine’s love. Catherine soon dies however, leaving Heathcliff to turn to revenge and anger. Forcing the love of his son and Catherine’s daughter, he believes that the marriage will give him his revenge. Through the process he treats everyone cruelly around him. His madness for love and revenge leads him to kidnap Catherine’s daughter, also named Catherine, forcing her to marry his son. After the marriage his son soon dies, and Catherine is forced to stay as a servant in the household. When Heathcliff finally dies, Catherine and her cousin and Hindley’s son Hareton move in together. They fall in love and get married. The whole story is told to a man named Lockwood by the servant o Wuthering Heights, Nelly. This story has a lot of hatred and revenge, but is ultimately based around a couple famous for their love.
8. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchel
A struggling love story in the midst of the Civil War in the South, this story is about a woman named Scarlett who after being rejected by her love, Ashley Wilkes, pursues a life where she is a strong independent woman. Going through a few marriages, she eventually becomes a fairly successful business woman after struggling through the center of Civil War battles and attacks on her home and village. Throughout the whole story a man named Rhett Butler takes an interest with Scarlett. However, Rhett knows that Scarlett scorns men she can win easily, therefore Rhett refuses to show her that she was won his heart. Throughout the story he mocks her, argues with her, and eventually resorts to cruelty and indifference in order to win her affections. His fondness for her is evident, however, in his support for her as she acts against social customs and becomes a successful business woman. After two other marriages, leaving her twice a widow, her and Rhett eventually marry. Though they finally marry, their relationship never succeeds because of Scarlett’s obsession with Ashley and Rhett’s reluctance to express his feelings. After being accused of an affair with her childhood love Ashley whom she no longer loves in such a way, Scarlett realizes that she actually loves her husband Rhett. However, after their daughter’s death and rumors of an affair, Rhett leaves saying that he is no longer in love with Scarlett. The story ends with Scarlett vowing to win back Rhett’s love.
9. Princess Buttercup and Westley- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
This story revolves around a young girl who falls in love with the farm boy on her childhood farm. After she confesses her love to him, Wesley travels to America to seek a fortune for her love. It is seen found out that Wesley has been killed by the dread pirate Roberts. After his death buttercup vows never to love again and a few years later though still heartbroken over her Wesley agrees to marry a prince who desires her. It is soon found out that the print is actually trying to kill her after their wedding night, and plans for her kidnapping. While kidnapped a mysterious man in a mask comes and saves her, who is eventually revealed to be Wesley himself. They are reunited only to be separated once again by the evil Prince. After the prince of times to kill Wesley he escapes with the help of two friends to go back to the castle and rescue Princess Buttercup. They spare the Prince’s life, but ride off into the sunset together. It is a classic old-fashioned love story, but the humor and the story’s modern twist makes it a really enjoyable read. Also, the author of the book styles the story in an interesting way by making up a fake author of the tales and molding the story into a folk lore type of tale. The comedic characters and the fun action adventure between the couple makes them an iconic couple of literature.
10. Noah Calhoun and Allison Nelson- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Another story having issues with class, but in a more modern setting, this couple is a modern famous, classic couple. The story tells a love story in the 1940s of a poor young man named Noah who falls for a rich young woman named Allison. They fight to stay together, but they are soon separated by their social differences. Before she is about to marry a man of her class, Allison is reunited with Noah. She struggles with her mother’s influence to marry rich and her love for Noah. After being reunited with Noah, while engaged to another, she visits Noah’s home and has a week long affair. Upon returning to her fiancee, Allison decides to tell him the truth of her love for Noah, and he lets her decide. She chooses Noah and they spend their life together. The tragedy in this story stems from the future in which the story is being told. In the future both Noah and Allison are in an old folks home, with Allison struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Noah reads her the story every night which allows her to remember him even if only for an instant. One morning after spending a last romantic night together, both die together in bed while in a loving embrace.
11. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The most modern in the famous literature couples is John Green’s famous book The Fault in Our Stars. As necessary for these stories to be iconic and bitterly sweet, there is a struggle that keeps the couple apart. In this story both are cancer patients who, although know of their imminent demise, still decide to fall in love and spend the time they have left together. Hazel being the one who is currently sick, believes that she will be the first to go, but it is Augustus who is actually in remission who is the one who dies in the story. However, before his death they spend a lot of memorable moments together including traveling to Amsterdam to meet Hazel’s favorite author. Their story is memorable in its modern portrayal of young relationships. Though its fairly new, Hazel and Augustus are already being called a memorable book couple.
I am the Social Media Coordinator and Author Relations Manager for BiblioCrunch. And I love to read, OF COURSE! From the classics to YA and children's, you can find me reading it all. I have a masters in publishing from NYU's Print and Digital Media Studies masters program, and have undergraduate degrees in music, marketing, and english. I have a passion for reading, music, and travel. My goal is to travel to as many places around the world as possible. If you need to find me, you can catch me traveling all around the world at any chance I get – always with a book in hand!