Love Triangles in Literature - a dream come true?


Rebel Belle features Harper who has a perfect boyfriend to start the book off with, but who falls in love with the complete-opposite-omg-I-thought-he-was-awful newspaper editor. Tease is about Sarah, who was dating Dylan, the perfect highschool football player. They semi-break up (this is a complicated one and will be explained in a review tomorrow) and she falls for a guy she always thought was a loser. In Vanity Fair, a true British classic, Rebecca has a love triangle with.. everyone? Everyone loves her and she loves everyone’s money. And then The Hunger Games - I just assume everyone knows Katniss’ problems with the two boys in her life or Twilight (ugh did I just mention this book on my website?) - everyone is Team Jacob or Team Edward.

Love triangles in literature are all the rage and due to most popular books becoming a movie nowadays, this trend is spreading from literature to the general media.

Is there anything wrong with this? Nah. However, as a critical reader - with a background in gender studies - I question what these love triangles do for our perception of the female lead characters in these books.

Instead of talking about Katniss and Bella, who both have had way too many feministic (justified or not) rants aimed at them already, I want to talk about Harper - a less known female characters who is well on her way to becoming the new Katniss and Bella.


Rebel Belle

Harper starts off as an innocent, rather shallow, teenager who only worries about whether she will be prom queen. When she’s thrown a loophole, she just worries about losing her boyfriend, Ryan. Then boy number 2 - David - is thrown in the mix as a boy she has to defend to death (supernatural powers and ancient rituals come into play here). So Harper’s story is one of protecting her boyfriend from the truth and the other guy from death. 

This is a simplified version, because Harper definitely also worries about her best friend and her grades - she’s top of the class at this point. However, simplified as it may be, it does indicate one truth very clearly: all of Harper’s development is only led through the boys. 

Is this Harper’s fault? Definitely not - she’s destined for a lifetime of protecting a boy. But what about the author? What would have happened if Harper had to defend a girl from her high school, spending all her time with this girl and thus not causing her boyfriend any reason to be jealous.

What the current plot causes though, is that the reader defines and judges Harper in relation to her relationship to boys and that’s something I don’t like. I like to get the know my characters in multiple ways - not just in a relationship way. Somehow, her solution to the love triangle becomes the thing we will judge her character on (due to the love triangle’s involvement in her new supernatural powers) and that just left a sore taste in my mouth after reading.

Is a love triangle in a book a dream come true for me? No. I would have loved to seen Harper defend her best friend or any other girl - more focus on the action and less on the very predictable outcome of the love triangle. But then again, I would be annoyed too if any male character was purely described in a love triangle way.

What about all you other readers? Am I being too critical here and should I just enjoy the love triangle?