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Top 10 Iconic Couples in Classic Literature

These are the classic couples in literature! For this list, we’re looking at the most beloved couples in literary works, including plays and epic poems. In terms of the term “classic”, we’re basing it more on how the book is regarded rather than the year of publication. We’re also only considering couples who actually got together at some point. We’ve included couples like Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza from“Love in the Time of Cholera”, Benedick and Beatrice from “Much Ado About Nothing” and more!

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Top 10 Couples in Classic Literature

Get ready for some timeless romance. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Couples in Classic Literature.

For this list, we’re looking at the most beloved couples in literary works, including plays and epic poems. By “classic,” we’re placing more emphasis on how the book is regarded rather than the year of publication. We’re also only considering couples who actually got together at some point.

#10: Beatrice & Benedick

“Much Ado About Nothing” (c. 1599)

While some other couples from Shakespeare will undoubtedly be appearing later on our list, this more lighthearted duo definitely deserve a spot. Appearing in the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” Benedick and Beatrice actually have a refreshingly modern romance for a work penned in the late 16th century. It’s a classic will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic, with the two characters seeming to alternate between being interested in one another and hating each other from scene to scene. In the end though, they reveal their feelings and it’s oh so satisfying after the long back and forth.

#9: Éowyn & Faramir

“The Lord of the Rings” (1954-55)

If you’ve only seen the “Lord of the Rings” movies and haven’t read the books, you’d probably cite Aragorn and Arwen as the most prominent romantic couple of the series. In the novel however, their story is mainly relegated to the appendices and hardly appears in the main text. One romantic storyline that J.R.R. Tolkien actually did write into the main story was that of Eowyn and Faramir. Though Eowyn previously had a thing for Aragorn, it’s clear that her relationship with Faramir is far richer and deeper than the infatuation she felt for Aragorn.

#8: Fermina Daza & Florentino Ariza

“Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985)

Perhaps the most well-loved book by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, “Love in the Time of Cholera” is at its very heart a love story. In this beautifully lyrical novel, Fermina and Florentino enjoy a passionate romance in their youth, but are kept apart by circumstances for much of their lives, and in fact spend most of the story apart. Fermina even marries a man she does not initially love, and Florentino experiences many affairs. In the end though, after enduring many years without one another, they come together again, to finish the inevitable love they began that continues to burn though they are old and grey.

#7: Penelope & Odysseus

“Odyssey” (c. 8th Century BCE)

These two go to show that true love really is worth the wait. The “Odyssey,” an epic poem by Homer composed sometime in the 8th Century BCE, is considered one of the seminal works of Western literature. Though it’s a story of adventure, it also features an enviable love story. Though Odysseus and Penelope are separated for most of the long tale, they both remain devoted to one another. Odysseus must battle the divine forces that keep him away from his beloved. Back at home, Penelope has to continue to keep at bay 108 suitors who try to take her husband’s place when he is presumed dead.

#6: Countess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina & Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky

“Anna Karenina” (1873-77)

This story may be known for ending in tragedy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain a great romance. In “Anna Karenina,” one of the best known works of Russian literature, Anna is a woman in a loveless marriage who has an affair with Vronsky, the man she truly loves. Because of the social pressures of the time, leaving her husband is no easy task, so infidelity is the only option she is left with if she seeks to find her own happiness. They may not get their happily ever after, but their story and their love touch every generation of new readers, making their romance truly timeless.

#5: Scarlett O'Hara & Rhett Butler

“Gone with the Wind” (1936)

Like many of the other couples on our list, there was no easy road to happiness for these two. In what seems to be a common theme with great literary romances, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler alternated between love and animosity for much of their long story. Though they may not have always seemed meant to be, the old immoveable object vs. irresistible force situation applies to them in spades – and makes their tortured relationship impossible to ignore. Even though their ending is left up in the air, the sheer emotion in their tempestuous pairing pushes buttons in readers who have had – or wish they’d had – similar relationships themselves.

#4: Jane Eyre & Edward Rochester

“Jane Eyre” (1847)

Okay so by modern standards, there are quite a lot of things wrong with this story, but it’s still considered one of literature’s great romances. Jane Eyre is an orphan working in the home of Edward Rochester. While her employer is at first mean and abusive towards her, she eventually comes to see his softer side. These unlikely lovers are in fact soul mates. The problem, which she discovers on their wedding day, is that he already has a wife. Don’t worry though, she ends up being killed in a fire so they can be together guilt-free. Messed up? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean readers don’t love this love story.

#3: Catherine Earnshaw & Heathcliff

“Wuthering Heights” (1847)

Even death cannot bring this great gothic romance to an end. Catherine and Heathcliff have a tumultuous relationship that spans their entire lives, starting out as childhood sweethearts but getting more and more complicated as they get older. Their love transcends their different classes, a world of violence and abuse and yes, even death. Catherine is eventually married to someone else and dies giving birth to her daughter, but that doesn’t stop Heathcliff from longing for her and Catherine’s ghost from visiting him. Though a dark story, it’s one with love at its very heart – even if that love is sometimes twisted.

#2: Juliet Capulet & Romeo Montague

“Romeo and Juliet” (1597)

No list of great romantic pairings would be complete without these two. We of course know how this tragic story ends, but the intense drama of “Romeo and Juliet” makes it one of the greatest love stories of any age. Only teenagers when they meet and barely knowing one another for a few days before the story concludes, their love is one that represents youthful passion and folly. Recognizing that they were meant to live together or not at all, they are willing to end their lives for one another, and hey is there anything more romantic than that? Okay maybe there is, but as far as Shakespeare goes, it makes for one seriously epic romance.

#1: Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

“Pride and Prejudice” (1813)

While many of the entries on this list featured darker stories, this one has a classic happy ending. And it’s a good thing too, because readers of Jane Austen’s most popular work, “Pride and Prejudice,” may not have thought that the male and female lead could possibly have worked things out based on how their relationship began. Elizabeth Bennet has contemporary feminist views and doesn’t want to end up in a loveless arranged marriage like many of the women around her. Unfortunately, she totally misreads the character of Mr. Darcy, whose sterling qualities are exactly those she seeks. That she comes to recognize those qualities ensures a joyous conclusion for this perfect comedy of manners.


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