Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Excuse Me While I Swoon

Check out the other great posts on "Literary Crushes and How They Shaped Our Hearts"!

Looking back on my literary crushes, I don't think I really knew why I fell for these fictional lads at the time. I just did.

It was when I started learning more about the Catholic faith, chastity, and the dignity of women that I could look back on my childhood - er, well, continuing past childhood - crushes and see that what I saw in them was what I did and still do long for in a real man

I don't mean what society tells us is a real man - the macho, beer-drinking, sports-watching, money-making, crude joke-cracking, sometimes jerk player kind of "man". 

I'm talking about a real, real man. All you ladies know what I'm talking about. He is masculine. He is respectful. He is patient. He is humble. He appreciates women. He is in control of his desires. He doesn't pressure women to be who they aren't. He loves his mama and looks up to his papa. He knows how to make money, but doesn't let that rule his world. He doesn't boast. He has a hilarious sense of humor, and loves the sound of your laugh. He knows how to make sacrifices... and makes them willingly. He knows who Love is, and strives to emulate Him by loving you.

That looks like me on the right, right?
Oh, and he's a handsome prince.


(Not really.)

I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.

Mr. Darcy

Excuse me. *Leaves the computer to swoon.* Thank you.

Is it really any surprise that Mr. Darcy makes the list? I know I'm not the only one to have fallen victim to Mr. Darcy's love spell. Actually, I think it has almost been scientifically proven that any woman who reads (or sees!) Pride and Prejudice falls in love with the brooding and mysterious male lead.
I find Mr. Darcy rather handsome. (Image credit)

It's certainly not because of that famous opening line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Sure, his $10,000 pounds a year is exciting to Mrs. Bennet, but it sure doesn't get my heart thumping.

I think a line from the movie really emulates why we all find Mr. Darcy... desirable:

You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you ... you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on. 
Mr. Darcy sacrificed so much out of love for Lizzy, yet he never sought to make it known to her. What woman doesn't long to hear the words that a man has done everything he has for love of her, and her alone? What woman doesn't want to feel that kind of sacrificial love? We all seek this - even if we don't realize it. We seek this in a man, and we seek this with God - to be forever be bonded to him.

Prince Char

... *cricket cricket* ...

If Ella says no, I'll say yes!
Oh, sorry, I had to leave to go swoon again.

Sure, Ella Enchanted might be written for girls ages 8 and up, and yes, I may have read it for the millionth time in the past few months, but there is something that touched my 8 year old heart that still touches my 25 year old heart when I read about the friendship between Prince Char and Ella that eventually blossoms into love.

Plus, Prince Char is just a cute patootie. Sliding down stair rails in the castle? Sign me up! Learning to speak crazy Gnomic language? Hot! Rescuing the damsel in distress from hungry ogres? My hero!

I think what I have always loved most about Prince Char is how he views Ella. Others see Ella as odd, clumsy, awkward, spunky, quirky... the list goes on. I know that all of these words and many more have been used to describe me in the past. Yet, Prince Char sees all of these qualities not as setting Ella as an untouchable outsider, but for making her the unique woman that she is. He matches her quirky sense of humor, rescues her when she needs it, has the humility to need her too, exhibits patience in waiting for her to be ready for their relationship, and then doesn't give up when he knows that it's time for their life together to begin. Many children's book lads are portrayed as either following lasses around in a lovey dovey daze or pushing the ladies to their "awakening." Prince Char doesn't do either of these, but instead walks alongside Ella, seeing her as his equal and loving her for exactly who she is. I don't think I've ever met a woman who doesn't recognize that a man like that is a catch.


My boyfriend.
I know what you're thinking. Shakespeare isn't a literary character! You would be correct. I do, however, have a major crush on The Bard. Why, you ask? The man had a way with words, and he managed to create some of the most timeless, intricate, and swoon-worthy characters of all time.

Our love story began my freshmen year of high school. I can't explain to you why I first loved Shakespeare, but I can tell you that it was love at first sight. I became enticed by his words, and I felt a deep emotional connection to his works. Maybe it’s because he was secretly Catholic, but the man knew how to write the poetry of love.

I could go on and on with examples, so I'll try to only throw a few your way. How about this classic line from Romeo and Juliet?
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Sure, their love affair happened in a matter of a week, but that Romeo did it right. Juliet became the only light he needed. As my high school English teacher would say, he wooed her, wed her, and bed her. All while speaking in pretty poetry. Romance!

Romeo and Juliet is soooo over-rated, I hear you say. Fine then. I bet you've never read The Tempest. There we encounter Ferdinand, who has been stranded on an island with the eccentric Prospero and his daughter Miranda. Ferdinand admits that he has "known" many women, yet when he first sees Miranda, he recognizes the purity and beauty in her. To win her hand, Prospero sets menial tasks for Ferdinand to complete. A man who was just hoping to use Miranda for his own pleasure might mumble and grumble, but love has clearly changed Ferdinand:
I am, in my condition,
A prince, Miranda; I do think, a king, -
I would not so! - and would no more endure
This wooden slavery than to suffer
The flesh-fly blow by mouth. Hear my soul speak:
The very instant that I saw you, did
My heart fly to your service; there resides
To make me slave to it; and for your sake
Am I this patient log-man. 
Do you love me? 
O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound,
And crown what I profess with kind event,
If I speak true! if hollowly, invert
What best is boded me to mischief! I,
Beyond all limit of what else i' the world,
Do love, prize, honour you. (Act III, Scene i)
By becoming enslaved to her soul, he has been set free by love. He prizes and honors her for the true treasure that she is. What woman wouldn't swoon at these words?

This idea of having to work hard, make sacrifices, and yes, even suffer to find true love is echoed throughout Shakespeare's works. While none of us really desire suffering, we seek it in the sense that out of suffering emerges true love. Shakespeare said it well in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
The course of true love never did run smooth.
What wise words. Love always involves suffering, and requires willing sacrifices from those involved. Our hearts seek another who is willing to do anything and give anything to show his love for you, and my heart has always recognized this in the writings of The Bard.


Why do these literary crushes make me go weak in the knees? Because in my heart - in all of our hearts - our definition of true love doesn't change. What we seek in a man doesn't change, even if society tries to teach us otherwise.

While falling head over heels in love with an imaginary man isn’t encouraged, reflecting on just what it is that takes our breath away can teach us a thing or two about the desires of our heart. These literary crushes may not have shaped my heart, but they can reflect how my heart has been molded by God for Love.


  1. "Love always involves suffering, and requires willing sacrifices from those involved." --> I know this guy. His name is Jesus and He knows ALL about this.

    Great post! PRINCE CHAR! I almost forgot about him!! SWOON

  2. Oh boy, now I need to go re-read Ella Enchanted! That scene in the movie where they sing "Somebody to Love" gets me every time.


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