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McEwan, 'Enduring Love' - What does the novel have to say about love?

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Introduction

What does the novel have to say about love? The website Dictionary.com offers two main definitions for the word "love." The first describes it as, "A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness." The second, "A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance." The title, "Enduring Love," also has a double meaning. On the one hand is the more traditional, conventional understanding: that Joe and Clarissa's love endures the trials that befall it during the course of the book. The second meaning is the darker, more sinister meaning, the full severity of which unfolds throughout the book: that of Jed Parry's "enduring love" for Joe. McEwan makes a pun of the word "love" - on the one hand is the first definition, the "ineffable feeling of affection" between Joe and Clarissa. On the other is a "feeling of intense desire and attraction" which Jed feels for Joe. McEwan seems to be suggesting that love is not merely something to be celebrated in poetry and flowers, but also something to be feared. ...read more.

Middle

The happy ending we have all been hoping for - the proof that Joe and Clarissa's "enduring love" has withstood the test of Parry's obsession - comes as a throwaway comment in the Appendix. Here it is noted that whereas many victims of de Cl�rambault's patients will end up divorced or receiving psychiatric treatment themselves, "in this case [Joe and Clarissa��e] were reconciled and later successfully adopted a child." And so Joe and Clarissa's love has endured; they do live happily ever after. Joe is the object of the "enduring love" of two people. The first, that coming from Clarissa, he reciprocates and tries his best to reconcile when things go wrong. The second is that of Jed Parry. Jed's love for Joe is the mot dramatic form of love shown in the book, but it is unwanted and is not returned by Joe. From Joe's research - and later in the Appendix - we learn that Jed has de Cl�rambault's Syndrome. Starting with a brief glance at the scene of the accident and a short conversation when he follows Joe down to Logan's body, Jed is convinced that Joe is in love with him. He believes Joe is playing mind games, toying with him. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is, of course, right: Parry's love stems from mental illness. Joe describes de Cl�rambault's syndrome as "a dark, distorting mirror that reflected and parodied a brighter world of lovers whose reckless abandon to their cause was sane." It is disturbing to read the final paragraph of the first Appendix, which states that "the pathological extensions of love not only touch upon but overlap with normal experience, and it is not always easy to accept that one of our most valued experiences may merge into psychopathology." In Enduring Love McEwan uses de Cl�rambault's syndrome to show another view of love, one that is an extreme, out-of-control version of an ordinary human emotion. His use of the contrast between Joe and Clarissa's normal relationship struggling against the pressure of Jed's irrational, unwarranted affections towards Joe, is quite dark. It causes the reader to question the commonly held view of love, and the line between "normal" and "insanity" becomes hard to draw. Most love is characterised by irrational and illogical gestures, but Jed's irrational and illogical gestures are disturbing and quite scary for Joe. Many people dream of an everlasting love, but he has no choice. He has to endure Parry's love until it almost kills him, Clarissa and their relationship. Vicky Charles 5 ...read more.

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