Three Loves Are The Charm?
by Fiona Crawford - September 14th, 2012
The premise (just in case you didn’t choose to click on that link)? That, as KYD Online Assistant Stephanie Van Schilt wrote:
Love triangles are standard in literature, history, song, verse, mythology, television, and film. They are endlessly present, a useful trope in their various shades—pining, pleading, or competing. The popular one plus one plus one equation is conducive to spicy rivalries that both please and divide audiences, appealing to our innate tendency to speculate whether the grass is indeed greener.
Yeah, what she said.
I mean, on some level I knew that. On another, it’s quite uncanny just how many love triangles there are out there. Think about it. If you’re a Big Brother fan, you’ll know there’s one playing out nightly on our TV screens right now. And what’s so wrong with us that we can’t accept that the grass we have is plenty green?
The first that sprang to my mind is Twilight’s Bella, sandwiched between Edward and Jacob. Oh, and its erotic fiction spin-off with Ana + Christian + her college photographer mate + (at a stretch) her publishing house boss (both of whose names I’ve completely forgotten).
While neither Bella nor Ana may have actively encouraged their second-choice lovers, both females didn’t do a whole lot to discourage them either (Bella’s jealously at Jacob’s freaky imprinting on her daughter made it clear she liked the attention).
Refreshingly, though, Van Schilt didn’t mention those at all. She went old school, more interesting, and in at least one case higher brow. I mean, who knew about Helen of Troy potentially being willing participant in a love triangle? I always thought she’d been kidnapped. And who else had forgotten the Brenda + Dylan + Kelly 90210 saga?
More recently, I’ll admit that I’ve been obsessed with the Elena + Stefan + Damon love triangle stretched taught and dynamic in the Vampire Diaries. Adding complexity, spice, and occasionally a little double-crossing doppelganger confusion to the mix is the love rectangle-completing Katherine. It doesn’t hurt that all three (four) of them are impossibly attractive—I couldn’t tell you which one I’d prefer Elena to end up with.
Which reminds me of Van Schilt’s analysis of one of the best love triangles I’ve seen in a while: that which played out between The Hunger Games’ Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.
‘Reading The Hunger Games,’ she writes, ‘I’m not sure I had a “team”.’ That’s exactly how I felt! Unlike Twilight, where I was Team Edward all the way, wavering only slightly and briefly when I saw Taylor Lautner’s abs in the film adaptations, I spent the entire The Hunger Games trilogy flip flopping my allegiances about.
Van Schilt attributes a fair chunk of that to the fact that Katniss is such an independent, compelling character:
The combination of her hardened nature and empathetic awareness means that rather than let emotions rule, she still questions loyalties that others often take for granted, which sees her politics, rather than this love triangle, propel her.
Like a good feminist character not contained within Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey, Katniss can function with or without the doting of boys: ‘Gale is the alpha, and Peeta the beta male,’ Van Schilt writes. ‘They play the hunter and gatherer respectively, while Katniss is a combination of both, making the intrigue in this love triangle. Without giving away the ending, I will say this: refreshingly, throughout The Hunger Games, I didn’t believe the odds were in either’s favour.’
If you haven’t read KYD before, I’d highly recommend you do. Oh, and if you think of more awesome love triangles, I’d love to hear about them. They’ve got me puzzling. Is three the perfect balance? Two’s not enough, four’s too many, but three’s the charm? I mean, when there’s two (as in Romeo and Juliet), they tend to end in tragedy …