Loving both of you is breaking all the rules.
Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool,
Loving you both is breaking all the rules.
Oh, I remember 1977 and this hit song, written by Peter Yarrow (of the folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary) and Phillip Jarrell, and recorded by Mary MacGregor. The song was Ms. MacGregor’s only hit, and if you listen you’ll know that that’s a shame because she has a lovely voice.
I hated that song. I used to talk to the radio and say, “Yes, you feel like a fool! You are are a fool! Make a choice!” Then I’d switch to another radio station. I really hated that song.
So, now I’m caught in a quandary because I just read two YA books that I didn’t hate, but both of them have that same plot line: torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. Is this fantasy of two wonderful guys both madly in love with one girl something I missed out on? I would have settled for one, as a teen. I don’t remember ever thinking about how exciting it would be to have two guys on a string or how difficult, and flattering, it would be to have them fighting over me, to have to choose between them. Why is this conflict popping up all over in the books I’m reading and the TV I’m watching?
The first book I read last week was The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. If I had known it was a zombie book (the zombies are called The Unconsecrated, but they’re zombies), I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. However, for a zombie book it was O.K.—except that the female protagonist, Mary, can’t decide whether she loves Travis or Harry, who happen to be brothers and about the only available guys around. If you’ve read this far, you’re not worried about spoilers, so I’ll give you a heads up: she never does really make up her mind.
Then, I read Catching Fire by Suzanne Colllins, the sequel to last year’s hit, The Hunger Games. I loved it, and I’m looking forward to the third and final installment in the trilogy. However, Katniss in this novel is again “torn between two lovers,” Peeta and Gale. All sorts of developments make this choice a difficult one for Miss Katniss, but heckfire, why can’t she just fish or cut bait, at least in her own mind? No, she loves Gale, but she has some kind of feeling for Peeta, too; she’s just not sure what that feeling is. I hope in the third book she grows up and makes a choice, and the author doesn’t feel the need to kill one of the male leads to resolve the dilemma.
I started thinking about how many popular books and TV shows have this premise: in the Twilight series, Bella is torn between Jacob and Edward. She really knows which one she wants to spend her life with, but she strings the other guy along for two books, just in case. Cut him loose, for Pete’s sake!
On LOST (you knew I’d bring LOST into this rant somehow, didn’t you?), Kate’s been torn between Jack and Sawyer for five seasons. I’m sure there’s are bets being placed somewhere on which guy she’ll end up with.
I’m sure these are only the tip of the iceberg. Can you think of any other books movies, or TV show with the girl torn-between-two-lovers device? I do think it’s a device to create and maintain romantic/dramatic tension. After all, what did the character Jacob really add to Twilight, other than another pretty face?
And did Jane Austen’s heroines have this issue?