As a child, I was troubled by the concept of, ‘happily ever after.’ Those three words came to signify the end of an adventure, especially for the heroine. Although, that might be a reasonable trade-off for the lifelong companionship of a happy marriage.
As a grown up, I have the feeling that, for at least five fictional wives, ‘happily ever after’ never did come true.
1. Penelope and Odysseus – The Odyssey by Homer
In the prequel, they have just become parents when he sails away to war. Twenty years long years later he finally finds his way home. Meanwhile, she’s been fending off a bunch of gold-digging suitors to protect their son’s inheritance.
War kept Odysseus away for ten of the twenty years. He was renowned for being wily but how did he explain the discrepancy? And after so long on her own, would Penelope really just take him back, no questions asked?
2. Aurora and the Prince – Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault
He’s heard the prophecy: a beautiful princess will sleep for a hundred years to be awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince. In other words, she is the ultimate trophy wife. Looks and lineage are the only things they have in common.
Having fulfilled his ambition to kiss awake the sleeping princess, the Prince has peaked; he’s ready to settle down. Now that she’s finally awake, Aurora is ready to rock.
3. Katherina and Petruchio – The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
She has a wealthy father and a bad temper; he’s street-smart, egotistical and penniless. Their relationship is a transaction: he teaches her how to channel her anger to outsmart her annoying relatives. Her dowry makes him rich. Katherina blooms into a spirited, intelligent woman. Petruchio alas, is stuck in the time warp of his bad boy glory days. Boring.
4. Marianne and Colonel Brandon – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Let’s face it, he got her on the rebound. She’s so young; given time, her broken heart would have healed. But his signature on the marriage register ensured that her family would never again face financial or social ruin. Too much pressure – poor Marianne couldn’t refuse Colonel Brandon. And yet Willoughby, handsome astride his big strong horse, is just on the other side of the hill…
5. Connie and Mellors – Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
She’s a bohemian with a well-developed sensual side, he’s a loner who knows how to ring her bells. Trysts in the gamekeeper’s hut are super sexy. Living together in a farmhouse with an outside toilet, not so much. (I’ve taken a little poetic licence here and assumed first husband Clifford finally agreed to a divorce.)
Connie discovers that life with a screaming baby, never-ending house work, and Mellors’ persistent cough leaves no room for the red hot sex that brought them together in the first place.
Maybe these couples should have made use of a little marriage counseling. Do you agree? Which couples would you add to the list?
YouTube Channel: Ian Nisbet
Featured image via One Wed