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What is it about love triangles?
- Lysander, Demetrius, and Hermia
- Elizabeth Bennet, George Wickham, and Fitzwilliam Darcy
- Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilkes, and Rhett Butler
- Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan
The love triangle is certainly nothing new; however, lately it seems like many readers, myself included, have been getting down on books featuring love triangles.
Earlier this week, I was watching an episode of the BBC/SyFy show Merlin in which Arthur discovers his love Guinevere is also secretly harboring feelings for Sir Lancelot. This certainly isn't a new tale; most people know of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. Yet, few people complain about that particular love triangle. This made me wonder what causes so many people to puff with exasperation at the mention of a love triangle. started thinking about books I'd read, reviews I'd recently seen, and (of course) all the chatter on twitter. Here's what I've noticed.
1. If done well, the love triangle should blend into the rest of the story without detracting from it.
A great example of this is the Katniss/Gale/Peeta arc in The Hunger Games. Without becoming a primary point, it helps to develop all three characters.
2. Often, love triangles perpetuate the stereotype of a female as helpless without a partner (usually a male).
The Twilight series is one of the worst offenders here. Bella is helpless without either Edward or Jacob and can't even function when Edward is away. is this really the message we want to be sending to our young girls?
3. Love triangles are also sometimes guilty of falling into the trap of pitting girl against girl for the love of a boy.
This is summed up best by Meghan of Coffee and Wizards in her post on female friendships in literature.
4. Sometimes, the triangle unnecessarily complicates matters.
My friend Katya summed this up nicely by saying, "romance is hard enough without adding a third to the mix."
5. Too much of a good thing can be bad.
You know that feeling after over-indulging at a large, decadent meal? I think that's what we're seeing now. In the same way we've seen vampires and werewolves run their course, some readers my be feeling bored with the triangle motif.
For me, I'm growing weary of the forced triangle--the one that seems present in the book as a trope and nothing more. But, if well done, a brilliant triangle can add dimension and depth to a story.
What are your thoughts about love triangles in literature? Do you love them, hate them, or are you somewhere in between?