Clearly, not every fictional relationship is straight out of the lusty pages of a bodice-ripper. Similarly, many of literature’s most storied unions lack the progressivism one might wish for. To spell it out: sometimes your favorite heroine brings home a real clunker. And you sit there, page after page, shouting at her to wake up and realize her romantic worth. But she doesn’t listen, for the plot must trod on despite your totally sensible objections to the inferior object of her affections.
It ends today. It’s intervention time. Today we tell our favorite women of the printed word that “there is something rotten in Denmark, and it’s his terrible attitude.”
Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte)
Girl, sit down. Look, I know, Mr. Rochester is le dreamy, as your young chanteuse Adele might say. But honey, he kept his deranged wife holed up in his attic while he made big puppy dog eyes at you. I hear you saying, “Everyone has skeletons in their closet.” But not everyone’s skeletons set their beds on fire in the dark of the night. If you insist on going through with this relationship, I’m going to need you to go over every nook and cranny of Rochester’s House of Secrets, because you certainly can’t count on the wickedly complicit or insanely oblivious help to help.
Nancy Drew (The Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene)
Let me put this quite simply: dream a little bigger, darling. There are more exotic, intriguing men out there than some cookie-cutter, insurance-selling frat boy. Ned’s probably not even the most interesting man in Mapleton. Not to mention, this exchange from The Double Jinx Mystery:
Nancy: “How would you like to spend a few days at my house and help me do some sleuthing?”
Ned: “Great! I’m tired of cooking my own meals. I’ll come right away.”
Nancy, you’re just a meal ticket to him! He doesn’t deserve you or the wares from your fine family’s table!
Bella Swan (The Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer)
Come on, come on out of that fetal position. True, Edward is one
hot cold piece of man vamp meat. It’s naturally you’d go all swoony. Pretty understandable to have a little puppy love with Jacob while we’re at it. But girl, you need to find yourself first. You can’t love them truly, until you love yourself. Go eat your way through Europe or something and then see how you feel about long-term commitment.
Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
See above, only maybe instead of Europe, you should try a convent for a few years. Just get as far away from your Scrooge McDuck vault of a life as possible before finding a nice simple farm boy somewhere.
Cersei Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin)
When they say keep it all in the family, they didn’t mean it like that, homegirl. I get it. Jaime’s a stud. Cousin Lancel? Well…that was a choice. With a loveless marriage to the lecherous ogre formerly known as Robert Baratheon, it’s perfectly reasonable to look for other creatures who understand you. Understand you, yes, but not look like you. Try Tinder, for the Seven’s sake.
Elizabeth Lavenza (Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley)
Yo, I don’t know what Victor Frankenstein put under Hobbies on his dating profile, but it might be prudent to check for some subtext. Not only is this entanglement dangerous, but Toying With the Laws of Nature leaves precious little time for Meeting Elizabeth’s Emotional Needs and Nurturing Her Towards a Positive, Fulfilling Existence.
Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Hester, I’m never taking you to the track, because you couldn’t hit a winner with the broad side of a Puritan barn. A+ match with Roger Chillingworth, and twitchy, righteously guilty old Dimmesdale isn’t the one I’d fall over myself to be publicly shamed for. Really, though, what’s more important for you is this bit of solid real estate advice: location, location location. Get new neighbors. Get new clothes. Get out.
Penelope (The Odyssey, by Homer)
Twenty years, a gosh-darned war, vengeful gods, sirens, cyclopses, insane-in-the-membrane natural disasters, errant bags of wind, the Underworld, girls tryna’ steal your man, all them piggish suitors. Maybe it’s a sign…
What fictional characters do you think need a relationship intervention?