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The Problem with “Love” in the Literature Works Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2020

The troupe uses three plays to demonstrate the problem of love from a critical examination of the events and themes in them. It is evident that contrary to traditional presuppositions, the relationship between love and marriage may not be universal. Consider the Japanese drama, Love Suicide at Amijima, which is set in a severely stratified traditional Japanese system where people are categorized into very specific classes, and are supposed to identify with them from birth to death. This drama, as well as the other two works, which are examined herein, prove that contrary to the popular assumption, love is not always connected with marriage even if it is both sexual and romantic.

The two main characters, Jahei and Koharu, are separated by their different status in life, in which the latter is a middle-class merchant. The other is an indentured courtesan with almost no hope of extricating herself from her plight. In a traditional love story, their love would be underpinned by a struggle against social barriers with the objective of ultimately resulting in a marriage, where they would live happily ever after until death make them part. Although the ‘happily ever after’ theme is mostly found in western narratives, it also underlines most of the romantic stories in Japan where ideal couples end up as man and wife. However, in this story, the man was already married. In fact, pursuing love for his lover was going against the literary tradition of morality.

Their union comes out as selfish in respect to the man’s family, and it is evident that in the context of this story, marriage is not the objective of their love. Rather, it is a rebirth of the couple in a new existence after their death. The couple risked their lives for the sake of love that could not have been legally recognized. When it fails, they commit suicide. Their acceptance of their joint situation is expressed in the last words when they said to each other “Let us leave no trace of tears upon our dead faces” (Chikamatsu 170).

Similarly, in Von Goethe’s Faust, the love in question is just as romantic and sexual as is the case in the above-mentioned play. However once again, there is no prerequisite for married people. Fault, the main character, is interested in love, but he and his lover are both aware that it cannot be concluded in marriage. The girl has told him that her family cannot allow her to be with a man who does not believe in God. Essentially, this means that the man is not religious. He asks ‘How is’t with thy religion, pray? Thou art a dear, good-hearted man, And yet, I think, dost not incline that way” (Von Goethe 134).

Despite the fact that Faust insists that he does actually believe in God, this is not different from Gretchen and her mother. From the onset, it is apparent that they were both aware of the fact that their relationship could not result in marriage. Nonetheless, he was doing this to experience the power he had been given by the devil, and he could not have genuinely expected the affair to result in anything, but a disaster. The consequence of the love is a reflection of the attitude of the German society during the middle ages in respect to issues, such as premarital sex and pregnancy.

Gretchen realized that by virtue of having been involved with Faust sexually and getting pregnant, she had become an outcast and was rejected by her society. Her brother tries to defend her honor by attacking Faust. This provides an interesting parallel to Love Suicide, in which the lovers sought to use violence to redeem themselves.

While the parties were different and their objectives varied in both cases, violence and death were seen as the only ways to redeem the dishonor brought about by a socially unacceptable liaison. From the two plays, one can conclude, in line with the contention of this paper, that love does not necessarily have to be connected or even directed toward marriage. However, the tragic Romeo and Juliet type endings suggest that while love may indeed be mutually exclusive to marriage, in some cases society is in mostly unwilling to recognize such unions. Hence their fatal conclusions.

Out of the Cradle comes out as the dominant poem in Whitman’s Sea Drifts since it has condensed his major themes. These include love, death, sexuality, and their loss in a poetic language into a single setting. A boy considers two birds living and loving together until one day the female bird fails to return. The male searched fruitlessly for it. The male bird is inspired by the melancholy in nature to re-examine his feelings about love. It says “My own songs awaked from that hour” (Whitman 175). It does not, nevertheless, consider love in relation to relationships and marriages or even unions such with the birds it had been watching. It pursues the connection between Eros and Thanatos, the gods of love and death respectively.

Ultimately, death emerges as the inspiration to write poetry. The poem views death as the birth of a song, and it raises the prospects of annihilation, concluding that nothing can be done for it, but singing continuously. In this situation, the results of love and poetry are presented as what most people would consider a tragic opposite. Nevertheless, if one would reconsider the other two plays, Faust and Love Suicide in Amijima, he or she would notice the inherent connection between passion and death.

At the end of the day, while love does not always bear death, the three performances in the troupe bring out the bitter reality that love is, only so powerful because of the pain one would feel if he or she were to lose it. Jahei and Koharu end up “consummating” their love in death and the results of love between Faust and Gretchen are death and misery. In the same vein, the bird in the song relieves pain caused by love through song, which is an expression that has been both inspired and necessitated by the death of his partner.


In conclusion, it becomes clear that the overlying them in these the works is the inevitable connection between love and death. The fact that for one to truly love other people, he or she must make himself or herself vulnerable to pain and hurt should he or she lose them. Taking into consideration how the performances play out, marriage may be a consideration for love, but it is not necessary a part of it. Love is without doubt highly complicated and problematic, and in the context of the works performed by the trope, it may have a closer connection with death than marriage.

Works Cited

Chikamatsu, Monzaemon. The Love Suicide at Amijima. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953. Print.

Von Goethe, Johann. Faust. Alexandria, Egypt: Library of Alexandria, 1965. Print.

Whitman, Walt. Poetry and prose. Ed. Justin Kaplan. New York, NY: Library of America, 1996. Print.

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IvyPanda. "The Problem with "Love" in the Literature Works." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-problem-with-love-in-the-literature-works/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "The Problem with "Love" in the Literature Works." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-problem-with-love-in-the-literature-works/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Problem with "Love" in the Literature Works'. 18 June.

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