Unrequited Love and Obsession in Enduring Love

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‘A mighty pain to love it is,

And 'tis a pain that pain to miss;

But of all pains, the greatest pain

It is to love, but love in vain.’ - Abraham Cowley

Cowley portrays all-compassing love as ‘the great pain’ when it is not requited, whilst ‘The Great Gatsby’ (Fitzgerald, 1925) and Enduring Love (McEwan,…..) characterise it in a similar way. McEwan’s Enduring Love explores the causes of unrequited love through antagonist, Jed Parry’s De Clerambault’s syndrome, McEwan highlights that Parry’s illness is his hamartia ultimately becoming the main catalyst of unrequited love. Similarly Fitzgerald’s, Jay Gatsby is well renowned for his obsession with the past being his fatal flaw : the effects of both Gatsby and Parry’s obsession cause wide spread pain to those they love, inevitability leading to love that is unrequited. In addition it could be argued that obsession is a consequence of unrequited love to further obsession to thus then becoming a consequence as well as a cause.

Obsession is presented -at least- partially as the cause of unrequited love. In McEwans Enduring Love, the first Appendix, it sites a fake reprinted report from the British Review of Psychiatry ABOUT De Clerambault syndrome, fabricated by McEwan. The British Review of Psychiatry does not exist and the last names of the paper's authors, Dr Robert Wenn and Dr Antonio Camia, are an anagram of Ian McEwan. Nonetheless it states that D ‘The patient, or ‘subject’, usually a women has the intense delusional belief that a man, ‘the object’, often of higher social standing, is in love with her. The patient may have had little or no contact with the object of her delusion.

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The fact that the object is already married is likely to be disregarded by the patient. Parry’s illness has inevitably feed his obsession which in turn has resukted in unrewuited love as Joe Rose from the start is presentednted as never being able to reciprotate these feelings due primarily to the etablshedement of his hetereosexual relationship with Clarissa which is fragmented in Chapter 1. Some characteristics of De Clerambault syndrome are also seen in Jay Gatsby especially the intense delusional belief that Daisy, ‘the object’,(‘ often of a higher social standing’), is in love with him, however evisently she is just an ‘ultimate prize’ for him. The fact that Jay also has traits of De Clerambaults is supported by Cressida Connolly in her review – Over-Fished Waters- stating that ‘what makes McEwan’s depiction of the illness so complelling – and so – alarming- is how close it seems to rdinary romantic attachment’, this relevant as noth Jay and Jed are convinced that they are truly and purely in love. Cowley’s belief that ‘a mighty pain to love it is’ reflect Parry’s love for Joe as he says ‘You love me and there’s nothing I can do but return your love….I don’t know hey you have chosen me. All I know is that I love you’. Excessive repetition of the word ‘you’ shows his desperation and need for Joe and he explicitly states that ‘there’s nothing I [he] can do’, giving a sense to the readers that he is trapped by his own illness that he not only trapped by the love he has for Joe. Jed wants ‘To bring [Joe] to God, through love’ whilst Joe has been shown by McEwan as a man who relies heavily on his own resources of reason and logic, this reinforces whive is inevitability unrequited. Parry’s delusions fuelled by his illness have been his hamartia and led him to belief that it is his duty to bring Joe to God. Kiernan Ryans’ ‘After the fall’ creates parallels between the bible and Enduring Love, suggesting the image of two lovers eating under the tree being Clarissa and Joe and the readers are given a God like perspective on events, “Jed comes to appear as the ‘evil’ snake-like intruder in the prelapsian setting of Joe and Clarissa’s country picnic”.

As Enduring Love does, The Great Gatsby lets the readers have ab omniscient perspective which allows them to see the actions and the obsession of Gatsby and Jed Parry that lead to unrequited love and or their own demise as the characters themselves are presented as unable to perceive the causes of their own obsessive behaviour. Perceiving Parry as the snake-like intruder in the Joe’s life is accurate as his illness has infected and imprisoned Jed in his own life so not only is trapped by De Clérambault’s syndrome but this has caused him to do the same to Joe, the man he is convinced he loves. Joe states in Chapter 8 ‘I heard his voice on the monitor and echo in the hall behind me. Joe, God’s love will seek you out’. McEwan’s use of language with ‘monitor’, ‘echo’ and ‘seek’ amplifies the sense of entrapment and imprisonment.Both Jed Parry and Jay Gatsby evidently trapped those they perceive to love, the object of their fixations has driven their ‘loves’ further from them as a result. Jed Parry’s threatens Hoe Rose that if he attapts to ignore him it will ‘end in sorrow and more tears than we ever imagine’ Jed’s obsessive nature is prevalent by the word ‘we’ as this reflects how he still attaches himself to Joe. Also the threat itself has no impact on Joe because he understands that Jed is ‘fixated’ by and him, and all this threat does is drive a wedge between them. McEwan forces readers to sympathise with Joe Rose as he is ‘being hounded by Jed Parry and Jed’s obsession is conveyed as the clear cause of unrequited love as there is an understanding of how negatively Joe views the threats. Whereas Fitzgerald displays Daisy’s entrapment as ‘she cries to Gatsby, Oh, you want too much!’, his obsession with her and societal status has enlarged the gap between them which is supported Sarah Beebe Fryer assertions believed that ‘Daisy is a victim of complex need and desires’. Both McEwan and Fitzgerald display the conflict between obsession being the cause of unrequited love and that due to Jay Gatsby and Jed Parry’s obsessive natures they have managed to entrap their object of their obsessions causing unrequited love.

Obsession is described as fixation, consuming passion, mania, infatuation or compulsion, this encompasses Gatsby and Jed Parry’s ‘feelings’ towards the objects of their obsessions. This obsession is ultimately the consequence of unrequited love. Fitzgerald uses symbolism to convey how obsession has affected Jay Gatsby as a result of unrequited love. In Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby obsession is viewed as a consequence of unrequited love as he uses symbolises to reflect how intensified Jay Gatsby’s obsessive behaviour is. The ‘green light’ and the colour green symbolises Gatsby’s intense loyalty to his hopes and dreams which have been a result of his obsession with his past with Daisy. 'I wouldn't ask too much of her,' I ventured. 'You can't repeat the past.' 'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!', his frantic fixation with the past is demonstrated in his speech and Fitzgerald’s use of punctuation shows the readers how his longing for her consumed him completely, repetition of what Carraway said reflects Gatsby’s inability to find a muse or inspiration to succeed outside from looking at his past with Daisy to help him form is future, further reflecting that the consequence of his obsession his need to please her.

Fitzgerald’s language is figurative and full of images, creating images that appeal to the senses he is able to capture the reader and involve them in Jay Gatsby’s delusions ‘He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and for as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling…I distinguished nothing except a single green light…’ Fitzgerald developed an image in the readers mind which makes the ‘green light’ very significant as it signifying the ‘dark water’ which is symbolic of all that darkness that Gatsby believes is hindering their love and causimg the unrequited love, and this invokes Gatsby’s ‘romantic imagination [which] invents a world of possibility, [and] the emotion it generates is often a sense of loss’.(Kathleen Parkin 1987: Penguin Critical Studies Series: ‘The Great Gatsby’) His obsession becomes a consequence due to his sense of loss as he now longs to remove that ‘dark water’ and that is what fuels his obsessive behaviour which leads to unrequited love.Fitzgerald’s use of the ‘green light’ is seen as a reminder to Jay Gatsby that he is successful for Daisy, she is the centre of his inspiration and her inability to love him back because she ‘cant help what’s past’, drives him further into attempting to pursue her. However it is also seen as a reminder to the reader that the ‘green light’ is always going represent to be a distant between him and Daisy and as the readers have an omniscient perspective this invokes emotions of pity for Gatsby as his obsession has been shown as a consequence of his longing to closing that distant has caused her to drift away from him resulting in love that is unrequited.

McEwan reflects the that obsession is a conqueneces of unquieted love through Jed Parry’s first interaction with Joe Rose were ‘he was lowering himself to join me’ demonstrating that he was becoming submissive and giving a part of himself away to Joe and this is similar to Gatsby coming submissive to him obsession with Daisy. Initially readers in Enduring Love would have negative view of Jed as they are only given the perspective of Joe, and he only coneys him as ‘ridiculous’ and fixated. McEwan does this to convey that Parry’s obsession is not only being a burden to him but to Joe as well. Chapter 11 ultimately reflects the pure obsessive nature of Parry’s illness and how obsession is a conquence of unrequited love. McEwan writes the entire chapter in letter form, convincing the readers of the importance. In chapter 11 McEwan presents the extent of Jed Parry’s using rhetorical devices, similes and metaphors to compare the strength of his love for him to the strength of ‘steel cable’ or ‘like an electrical current’. An ‘electrical current’ perfectly describing their ‘unspoke love’. Perphaps this truly conveys the extent of his obsession has been become a conquence of unrequited love as this fixation has now consumer just as Jay Gatsby has as well.

‘He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in this house according to the measure of response it drew from her from her well-loved eyes’. Fitzgerald portrays his Jay Gatsby’s as all consuming and all-encompassing just as Jed’s love for Joe Rose has becoming consuming and has led him to become jealous of Joe and Clarissa’s ‘enduring love. A Marxist criticism of The Great Gatsby suggest that history has involved a struggle between social classes. “A Marxist approach may criticize Jay Gatsby….for using criminal means to enter the ranks of the ruling class and for then behaving like a knight in the old-fashioned romance, with Daisy as the grail as the end of his quest.”

It is argued that unrewuited love leads to the futher instified obsession ths becoming a consequence as well asa cause ultimately destroying the obsessed lovers. Extracts from a reviwer writing about Enduring Love stated that ‘Endunring Love show Ian McEwan at his best, combining the stark but sensitive rendering of human suffering’ This encompasses the view that not only is Joe suffering from Jed’s obsessions bu t that Jed is haunted and is ‘enduring’ his own obsession, thi sis a consequence of unrequited love because it is an illness he can not escape. Parry warns Joe that is attempts to ignore him might ‘end in sorrow and more tears than we ever dream’. The words ‘sorrow’ and tears’ corrolates to pain and suffering and McEwan portrayed this to highlight that though to the outer world Jed was ‘normal’, McEwans’ ‘dark glances here remonds us that normal behaviour conceals but does not banish unsavoury truths.’ (Sven Birketts, January 1998, ‘Grand Delsuion, ew York Times Archives).

Here the ‘unsavoury truth’ is that Jed Parry is haunted by his illness as a conquence and a cause of unrequited love, demonstrated as Parry confesses that he wanted to “hurt” Joe upon going to his apartment building in the morning, “or perhaps even more than’. He was welling to hurt the man he is conceived he loves because of his obsessive nature that at time drives him to anger, this outburst needn’t help his case as this pushes Joe further away. ‘Self-conciosuness is the destroyer of erotic joy’ signifies McEwans desire to portray Jed’s De Clersmbaults as something he is unware of and through that innocenece he has become a victim of his own illness and the fact that Joe is unable to ever receprecate these feelings frustrates him and that is when he threatens Joe again saying ‘I can get people to do things for me. Anything I want’. Jed as the victim of obsession as he does not understand why his ‘pathological vision of love and religion [doesn’t] triumph over the cool reductionism of science. (Extract from a rewriting about Enduring Love as ‘A Romance of Science ad Obsession). As Joe shows affection to Clarissa saying ‘Our love was just the kind to endure’, Jed is envious of how Joe loves Clarissa but evidently this is what drives his obsession and leads him to make threats because his obsession is so intensified that he believes that it will ‘endure’ longer than Clarissa’s. To the readers, a level of pity and empathy could be demonstracted McEwan contuily highlihts that Jed is actually suffering from an illness that cause his obsession that conquencetantky leads to unrequited love.

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Unrequited Love and Obsession in Enduring Love. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 24, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/unrequited-love-and-obsession-in-enduring-love/
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Unrequited Love and Obsession in Enduring Love. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/unrequited-love-and-obsession-in-enduring-love/> [Accessed 24 Feb. 2024].
Unrequited Love and Obsession in Enduring Love [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 Feb 24]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/unrequited-love-and-obsession-in-enduring-love/
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