We’re no strangers to abusive relationships. Most of us have had our fair share of them, be it physically or emotionally. Even well educated individuals find themselves falling head-first into the depressing pit such relationships create for us. Now I am no psychologist, and hence I cannot comment on why and how these happen to the best of us. I am, however, an avid reader and so I will limit my commentary to how such bonds are expressed in literature.
Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite written pieces. I admire it for its haunting setting and story. But most of all, I find thrill in the toxic love shared by Cathy and Heathcliff. I read it first when I was thirteen, and back then I’d found it the epitome of ‘love’- the tragic anti-hero
lusting loving the spunky damsel and how their feelings crossed social boundaries and all that crap. It took me a few years to realize how destructive their obsession was (I can’t bring myself to call it ‘love’ now.)
The toxicity was more obvious to me when I gave in to peer pressure and read all the twilight books. Edward as a character never appealed to me (I don’t mean any disrespect, just stating my opinion). My friends would swoon over how he’d watched the girl sleep and I’d just be like- Hello? Police? There’s a freakin vampire trespassing in my house! I thought that kind couldn’t enter houses without an invitation wtf man?
And there was the whole second book, where the pretty lady basically became a shut-in following a breakup. I’d never been more frustrated or worried about a character in my entire life. Is this what love is? To be so dependent on your partner that you turn into a vegetable the moment he leaves?
Don’t even get me started on Fifty Shades.
Then there’s the occasional dysfunctional relationship with a good story. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is a very good example where the two halves manage to be perfectly in sync even when they inspire the worst in each other. Nick and Ami from Gone Girl have an abusive relationship that is so ingrained to their routine that they prefer to continue that way instead of living a separate (albeit less eventful) life. And Lolita? The relationship forms the backbone of the entire novel.
What such stories have in common is the fact that though they are enjoyed, the relationships are not envied in any way. None of us would want our own Nicks or Amis. But ask anyone if they’d want their own Edward or Mr. Grey, and most of the time the answer would be ‘yes!’ or a variant of the same?. Why do these characters have such appeal even though they make life living hell for their lovers?
Because they’re described as attractive, and their actions are romanticized. Oh so he watches you sleep? He doesn’t want to miss a second with you. He stabbed that other guy who dared to look at you? Oh he’s so cuuuute when he gets all jealous ❤
No. Just no.
And with the new Suicide Squad movie set for release, this issue is of immediate importance because it showcases one of the most important relationships in the superhero universe- the one between the Joker and Harley Quinn. This abusive bond they share has been romanticized to such an extent that they are now one of the top DC couples. Time will tell how they decide to portray Harley in the movie.
While it is true that Harley herself played a part in the formation of this affair, her faults only make her seem more human. It’s a refreshing change from those demi-god heroes who do no wrong. Here is a successful woman, and even she is flawed. Harley hits home for too many of us.
I for one want to see her finally break free from what is holding her captive. A strong character like her would be exactly what we need to show millions of people that being treated like crap is not okay. She made mistakes, and now let’s see her learn from it while still being the badass she is.
Viva character development