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Love Triangles

HippieVan at 12:00AM, Feb. 13, 2015

I hope that all you lovely DDers are celebrating this Valentine's Day in happy, stable relationships - or happy, stable singledom! As for me, I love a good (fictional) love triangle. What's the point of a love story if it's not unnecessarily complicated, right? Here are some of my favourite love triangles from throughout the ages!

Christine + Raoul + Erik - The Phantom of the Opera
This book is about as close as my personal library gets to those guilty pleasure romance novels, and I love it to bits. Erik - the Opera Ghost - is a sadistic, disfigured monster of a man who manipulates and kills without remorse. But he is also Christine's teacher and muse, a musical genius tutoring her as the personified “angel of music” that her deceased father promised to send from heaven. Raoul risks life and limb to protect Christine from falling into the clutches of the Phantom.
Personally I think Raoul is a bit of a square, but that's just me.

Helen + Menelaus + Paris - Greek Mythology
The face that launched a thousand ships! According the the legend, Helen was the result of the princess Leda's affair with Zeus, who had taken the form of a swan. The most beautiful woman in the world, the great King Menelaus eventually won her hand in marriage. However, she was also promised to Paris by the Goddess Aphrodite and was ultimately abducted by (or ran away with) him. Thus the Trojan War was launched, giving us the great epics The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Archie + Betty + Veronica - Archie Comics
Even though this is the newest example on my list, it somehow feels like the “classic” love triangle. Betty is the sweet, smart girl next door. Veronica is the beautiful, unattainable rich girl. Both are inexplicably interested in totally average Archie Andrews. Misunderstandings and hilarity ensue, providing enough material for decades of comics. Fun fact: Archie has married both girls in alternative timelines. Check out Archie issues #600-605!

Hermia + Lysander + Demetrius + Helena - A Midsummer Night's Dream
A love…square? Hermia is in love with Lysander, but is being forced to marry Demetrius. Meanwhile Helena is in love with Demetrius, who does not love her. Helena goes so far as to betray Hermia in an effort to gain his affection. Through a magical mix-up, both men fall in love with Helena, who doesn't believe either of them. This is probably the most complicated triangle on this list. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a great introduction to Shakespeare, though, and is much more enjoyable than Romeo and Juliet in my opinion.

Ilsa + Victor + Rick - Casablanca
Ilsa admires Victor - a leader of the Czech resistance and a concentration camp survivor - but can't forget her passion for Rick when they meet unexpectedly in Casablanca, en route to America. As is seemingly often the case in older stories, Ilsa doesn't get to make the final decision determining her romantic future.
I think I'm a bit of an oddball in the world of Casablanca fans in thinking that Victor was clearly the right choice. I have had heated debates on this topic.

Pop culture and literature feature countless other love triangles, from the complicated Lois Lane/Clark Kent/Superman quasi-triangle to the classic Guienevere/King Arthur/Lancelot relationship. What are your favourite love triangles? Or do you think this is a trope that's totally played out? Leave your comments below!

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fallopiancrusader at 3:15PM, Feb. 16, 2015

Who can forget Peter Greenaway's "the cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover"? You can't beat a love triangle where one member ends up eating another.

Niccea at 5:41PM, Feb. 14, 2015

Yeah. I preferred the love triangle (rectangle?) from the Bard's Twelfth Night over Midsummer Night's dreams. I see the set up of girl pretending to be a boy for some reason or another (usually to have some form of equal right), oblivious guy, woman that OG is in love with, the very surprised twin brother of the girl repeated a lot more in popular film.

HippieVan at 8:17AM, Feb. 14, 2015

You guys have come up with so many examples I can't believe I forgot about! @usedbooks: Corpse Bride is my favourite Tim Burton film! It's definitely an interesting take on the classic love triangle.

usedbooks at 6:26AM, Feb. 14, 2015

Oh, and one more thought. The Corpse Bride was one of my favorites because it broke the pattern of the usual story of a third-party betrothed (for finances) couple at odds with ´true love.´ And it was great that the character removed from the triangle was not a tragedy for her but a victory. ´Single´is not the bad ending or the loser of the story. Also, the arranged marriage angle with terrible families has been such a story cliche that it was great to see it played out differently.

usedbooks at 6:15AM, Feb. 14, 2015

Shakespere was the best, especially in comedies. Although his were usually quadrilaterals (in the comedies) because for some reason no one was happy to be single in the end. His triangles were stuck in tragedies so the third point could be murdered (and then possibly the other two as well).

usedbooks at 6:12AM, Feb. 14, 2015

Luke, Leia, and Han -- Self-correcting love-triangle.

cdmalcolm1 at 2:55AM, Feb. 14, 2015

Ranma 1/2. More like love pretzel thing going on there.

KimLuster at 9:16PM, Feb. 13, 2015

Who'd 'a thought Cupid's arrow rarely flies straight!!

bravo1102 at 10:43AM, Feb. 13, 2015

in one version of the story Helen actually pines for Menelaus regretting her decision during the siege because Paris ignores her once the battle starts. Again lots of variants to the story between Homer, the Athenian playwrights and other commentators. And there could also be a triangle in the Odyssey with faithful Penelope-Odysseus- Circe and other gals.

bravo1102 at 10:38AM, Feb. 13, 2015

What's better than Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere is Tristan-Isolde-Mark from the same era of romance. Arthur and Mark are usually depicted as also-ran who never had a chance with Guinevere/Isolde for one reason of another, whereas Lancelot/Tristan is an ideal of chivalry that any woman would be heard pressed not to fall for. Then there are so many variants to the romances with Arthur varying in his ability to hold on to Guen and Guen's ability to withstand Lancelot. Then there is also another woman introduced in some versions with Lance having another truly dedicated lover who kills herself in anguish after giving birth to Galahad. Menelaus is also depicted as an incompetent also-ran in Homer who would have let Helen go if not for Agamemnon pressing him to go to war. In the Odyssey there is tension with Menelaus/Helen when you see the married couple they become years after her tryst with Paris. And Paris is the dashing perfect warrior with Menelaus the loving homebody husband.

tupapayon at 7:46AM, Feb. 13, 2015

In my personal experience I've enjoyed more the triangles when I'm not the one… decisions… I liked the rivalry and competition… win some, loose some… in fiction my favorite was a comedy in Spanish: Los Tres Garcia… three cousins pursuing the same girl… with Pedro Infante (the Mexican Elvis)…

KimLuster at 7:09AM, Feb. 13, 2015

Enemy at the Gate (a fantastic movie in so many ways) had a pretty good love triangle as well!

Banes at 6:43AM, Feb. 13, 2015

@kawaii - That's right! Funny, as I was writing about Wuthering Heights, I was also thinking about Legends of the Fall. Something about it feels the same, with Tristan a sort of "Wild Man" like Heathcliff. I actually didn't finish Wuthering Heights - too wrapped up in various triangles of my own at the time...

kawaiidaigakusei at 6:31AM, Feb. 13, 2015

@Banes- Isn't Wuthering Heights rife with love triangles? I think another triad is the one between Catherine-Heathcliff-Isabella. But romance did not end up so smoothly in the one you listed because of the "one". Another classic clustered mess of relationship musical chairs was the one in Legends of the Fall with Sussanah ruining the family dynamic between three brothers, engaged to Samuel/marrying Tristan/later settling with Alfred. The triangles in that film were: Samuel-Sussanah-Tristan, Tristan-Sussanah-Alfred, and Sussanah-Tristan-Isabel II. That movie was a laugh riot.

bravo1102 at 6:21AM, Feb. 13, 2015

My favorite is from Gone with the Wind, but rather than Scarlet, Rhett and Ashley I like Melanie, Scarlet and Ashley. I always loved the competition of good girl, bad girl and sap. Another favorite is Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour from the "Road" movies. And at least a dozen different "harem" animes because it usually always boils down to two girls and the guy with the rest of the girls as supporting characters. Right now I'm re-re-watching Haganai which you think is a love triangle but is actually two girls (Sena and Yozura), the guy (Kodaka) and a wild card (Rika) that is only played at the very end and then makes so much sense and you wonder why you didn't see it before. But then the plot isn't resolved yet with the second season having an ambiguous conclusion... or was it?

Banes at 5:51AM, Feb. 13, 2015

I remember reading Wuthering Heights in high school, with its Heathcliff-Catherine-Edgar triangle, while I was involved in my own triangle at the same time. Oy, life imitating art!

Banes at 5:50AM, Feb. 13, 2015

I've been in love triangles, too, in all three positions. It's more fun in hindsight than it is while you're living it. Even being "the One"'s...ahh, who am I kidding? It's FANTASTIC! And it ALWAYS works out well for EVERYONE, with nobody getting hurt! Hurray for the triangle, nature's workhorse!

Banes at 5:50AM, Feb. 13, 2015

Another great subject, Hippie! I don't think the love triangle is played out at all. It's been done a LOT, I guess. Love triangles must tap into some kind of universal thing to have such staying power. It can be done in a corny, hacky way, or it can offer a real look at the human experience.

Ironscarf at 5:47AM, Feb. 13, 2015

Shaggy, Scooby and Velma - Velma never really had a chance, but it was fun while it lasted. Love triangles will never get old, at least not until all stories are written by robots. You're probably right about Victor Laszlo - Bogey was a gangster/cynical detective type until this film, where he's a cynical bar owner/romantic interest. At least he got to show us what love is really all about in The African Queen. That's a love triangle too: a man, his boat and Katharine Hepburn. This is a classic man, woman and inanimate object/consuming hobby triangle, where the hero gets to choose one and ditch the other without actually hurting anyone.

KimLuster at 5:00AM, Feb. 13, 2015

Great subject - you all are outdoing yourselves here...! I've lived a couple love triangles - once as The One, and once as one of The Two. I don't recommend either haha! I liked the love triangle in Gone with the Wind (Ashley-Scarlett-Rhett). The Great Gatsby had an interesting one too (Jay-Daisy-Tom). More modern ones: Basic Instinct had a Quirkly, Deadly one... And Edward-Bella-Jacob... Noooooo!!! Nononononono!!

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:28AM, Feb. 13, 2015

I love watching a good love triangle. Being actively involved in a love triangle is not so much fun. Love rectangles are even more of a hot mess. My favourite love triangles are: Cosette-Marius-Éponine from Les Misérables because some beautiful songs came out of the pain. Tifa Lockhart-Cloud Strife-Aeris Gainsborough from Final Fantasy VII because it was the first time I learned that this type of relationship could exist. Squall Leonhart-Rinoa Heartilly-Siefer Almasy from Final Fantasy VIII because the start of their love triangle was the set-up of an amazing ballroom scene at the beginning of the game. Goo Jun Pyo-Geum Jan Di-Ji Hoo from the Korean Drama, Boys Over Flowers Asian dramas enjoy Love Triangles, but this one had to do with two rich upperclass boys trying to win the affection of one girl.

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