The Temptations Of Unrequited Love
Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is clearly a poem about love. Even the title of the poem has the word love in it, suggesting love, specifically “his love.” In the first line of the poem, the shepherd is asking, I’m assuming, a women to come live with him and be his love. The remainder of the poem is, for the most part, the shepherd pleading to this women by telling her how wonderful it will be when she gives in to him. He describes numerous places they will make love, and when they are done the birds will sing and he will immaculately clothe her. The woman shepherd tries to convince her with this wonderful image of them in these places making love and what he will do for her when the love act is over. I feel this poem says that love can be desired by a person from a specific other person, but that other person may not want the love.
Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a story with love. Although I do not feel that love is the main topic, it is a very strong influence to the outcome of the story. Connie, the main subject, is a fifteen year old girl who is in the transition of becoming a young woman. Arnold Friend is an older man that tries to convince Connie to go with him so he can give her his love. Connie does not initially accept Arnold’s proposal of love the first time he asks her. He has to plead with her, trying to convince her by telling her how great it will be to be in his embrace. He even threatens harm on her family to achieve this love from her. Again, I feel this story says that love can be desired by a person from a specific other person, but that other person may not want the love.
In the first lines of Marlow’s poem, the shepherd is asking: “Come live with me and be my love / And we will all the pleasures prove” (Marlow Lines 1-2). I feel that the shepherd is thinking about satisfying his own sexual needs from his literary use of the words “me” and “my.” In line two he does use the term “we” but obviously he can’t prove his love to himself, it takes two to make: “the pleasures prove” (line 2).
The woman seems to need convincing. This is why the shepherd needs to prove his love to her. The shepherd then ensues on painting the most beautiful literary picture for the women in his plea for the woman to go with him and be his love. In the shepherds plea for the woman’s love, he explains to her what they will do, where, and what he will do after the pleasures prove. While doing so he uses the words we and thee: “And we will sit upon the rocks / And I will make thee a bed of roses (Marlow Lines 5/9). He’s painting this picture like it’s going to be beautiful for the both of them, not just for him, and especially for her, to convince her.
After the shepherd exquisitely details what it will be like if she submits to his love he asks her if what he has said has changed her mind and if she will go with him: “If these delights thy mind may move / then live with me and be my love” (Marlowe Lines 23-24). The shepherds plea is very intense and passionate. I want to say that the woman did go with him and be his love, how could anyone pass up something that sounds this beautiful and alluring? The shepherd ends his plea asking the woman but it is unknown if she gives in to his unrequited love.
In Oates’ short story, Connie is introduced and her age, personality and life she is currently living is described. She is a stereotypical teenager–young, pretty, listens to music, doesn’t clean her room, has a nagging mother and likes boys. Arnold Friend is also introduced, but vaguely. Although the short description of Arnold is important in picturing him: “It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold…lips widened into a grin” (Oates 754). What Arnold says to Connie at this point in the story gives the impression that he is going to take Connie whether she likes it or not: “Gonna get you, baby” (Oates 754). It gives the reader an idea of the kind of person Arnold is and what he might be after. In the same way the shepherd is after the woman in Marlow’s poem, Arnold is after Connie, with unrequited love.
It turns out that Arnold Friend does want to get Connie– specifically for Connie to go for a ride with him. He is aggressively trying to get Connie to go for a ride with him by trying to convince her using several reasons–this is why he is at her house, he knows everyone in her family, he’s her lover: “Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will” (Oates 760). Connie is reluctant to go with him, she is unsure of him, his age, the way he is acting and how he knows so much about her. She thinks he’s crazy. Arnold wants Connie, among other things, to go for a ride with him to so that she can unlock the secret code which is a sexual innuendo: “33, 19, 17” (Oates 756). He also wants other acts of love with Connie and wants her to love him: “give in to me and you’ll love me.” Like the shepherd in Marlow’s poem, Arnold pleads Connie, although he is aggressive in doing so.
Connie is struggling with the idea of going for a ride with Arnold or she would not have spent all that time at the screen door. In the end, Connie gives in and ultimately surrenders to Arnold’s demands that she goes for a ride with him. In an almost dreamlike trance, almost as if she was watching herself from outside of her own body: “She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were safe back somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited” (Oates 764).
Love is defined a few ways, two of which are a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person and an intense personal attachment or affection. Love is not defined as affection two people have for each other, but an intense feeling from one person which may or may not be returned. Both Marlowe’s and Oats’ literary pieces share the same definition of love, in that the women did not have affection for these men and had to be pleaded by the men to get the love from them that they desired.