"Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love." ~Anonymous
I think you have to fall in love to find an answer for yourself, but I believe that love requires sacrifice, mostly the sacrifice of yourself. That can include the sacrifice of your mind, beliefs and body allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to have someone else in your life. This love can be the love of a dear friend, family, or of a significant other but all love requires a sacrifice. The sacrifice can also be the sacrifice of your time or of other relationships in order to allow your love to prosper and grow. This sacrifice can be either large or small but a sacrifice is a sacrifice. I truly believe that all love, true love, requires sacrifice. I believe this so strongly because I think that both are very important and that anybody can love if they simply make a sacrifice.
Throughout the school year, I would like to explore the question, does love require sacrifice through the literature we read.
Kent Haruf creates a perfect example of love versus sacrifice in his story Plainsong which encompasses the hardships and obstacles faced by many characters relating to our society today. The characters he created included a pregnant teenage girl, a deserted husband and father of two, and the two brothers left lonely and excluded from reality. Many of these characters overcome great obstacles which required sacrifice and sometimes ended in love. Victoria, the pregnant teenage girl for example, sacrificed her education and friends in order to find love within her society and create a love with her soon to be child. She left behind her life and dreams in order to love and care for her child and to love the McPheron brothers who become her “guardians”. The McPheron brothers make a large sacrifice of their time and space to provide, love, and grow with Victoria and her child. They sacrifice love of their animals for love for a girl. Guthrie, the forgotten husband, sacrifices his job and success as a teacher to provide the love his two sons needed and deserved. He gave up some aspects of his life and even sacrificed his marriage in order to discover his true love for his sons. In the process, the two sons have to sacrifice a mother to realize their love for their father. Throughout this story, sacrifice didn’t always end in love, but love always began with sacrifice.
Sophocles also demonstrates the idea that love requires sacrifice in his play, Oedipus Rex. Oedipus was left by his parents as an infant in the middle of the woods because his parents had been told by an oracle that he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. In order to avoid this problem, Oedipus’ parents left him alone to fend for himself ultimately backfiring on his parents. The parents loved Oedipus and loved each other but to keep this love, they had to sacrifice Oedipus himself because they would never be able to love him if he grew up to kill his father and marry his mother. In this case, Oedipus was sacrificed for his own love. Oedipus also sacrifices his own eyes and vision to show his love for his kingdom and town and to show his sorrow for the sin he has committed.
King Lear is an interesting play by Shakespeare in that there is a magnitude of sacrifice but not all on account of love. I believe that this play goes to show that sacrifice can allow for love and is required in order to love, but sacrifice certainly doesn't always lead to love. I found it interesting because I believe that King Lear was unsure about love and didn't know his own love at the beginning of the play but I think in the end he discovers his love as a result of the sacrifices he made.
Lear goes on to sacrifice his kingdom and sanity to find love from his three daughters. Regan and Goneril express their love for their father, but Cordelia doesn't think it's necessary so she is dismissed and forgotten by Lear. The sacrifice of a kingdom and crown that Lear makes for his two "loving" daughters, Regan and Goneril, lead to his downfall. His daughters slowly start to betray, abandon and take advantage of him. Lear makes a sacrifice of his belongings and safety in order to give and receive love from his daughters. In the end, the two daughters don't love their father back and don't return his favors and as a result he is left alone leading to his insanity. His daughters made the sacrifice of a father and Lear made the sacrifice of everything in order to love his daughters.
Lear also sacrifices his relationship with his daughter Cordelia in the beginning of the play to eventually realize his love for her and her love in return for him. For Lear, love requires sacrifice because he needs to sacrifice in order to discover if love exists or not.
Goneril, a daughter of Lear, also supports the idea that love requires sacrifice even though her sacrifices are extreme. Goneril is a daughter gone mad in this play because she allows her greed and pride to take over her body leading to her irrational behavior. She sacrifices herself and soul in order to find love which in the end turns out to be Edmund-Gloucester's illegitimate son. Not only does she sacrifice herself but she also sacrifices her sister Regan by poisoning her and sacrifices her husband Albany by abandoning him all for the love of Edmund. In order for her to be with Edmund, she had to sacrifice so much of her life. I think that in order for Goneril to love herself and Edmund, she had to sacrifice her family and sanity.
Throughout this play many sacrifices are made, some leading to love and some leading to downfall. I think that all love requires sacrifice and that the play King Lear demonstrates this idea because there is no evident love that wasn't a result of some sacrifice. However, I do not think all of the sacrifices made in this play were made just for the sake of love.
Andrew Goldsworthy from the video River and Tides made me realize that sacrifices can be made for love, but the love doesn't necessarily need to be for someone, but instead for something. Goldsworthy reveals his strong love of nature and art in this video and speaks his mind about where he gets his satisfaction from and what his true loves are. He travels around the world creating pieces of art in nature that eventually get destroyed on most occasions. He notes how hard it is for him to be away from nature because its what brings him to life. I think that Goldsworthy has to sacrifice his time and sometimes emotions when he is traveling to other places in order to be put right back into nature. However, I don't think that we see many other sacrifices in this video in order for him to love art and nature.
James Joyce has a very unique writing style that is sometimes difficult to comprehend. In most stories it is easy to identify the authors thoughts and find views on either love or sacrifice but in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it was hard to find proof that love in fact does require sacrifice. The main character Stephen Dedalus embarks on a journey in the hopes of finding who he is as a person and artist. The result is Stephen transforming from an innocent boy to an experienced man. To reach the end of his journey, Stephen had to sacrifice his innocence and soul in order to find love or satisfaction in the women figures surrounding him. Stephen sacrificed his soul in order to eventually find his love for the underlying beauty in his surroundings and his love for artistry. Stephen did sacrifice and in the end discovered love but I don't think he intentionally made sacrifices knowing that he would discover love.
In Kafka's book, The Metamorphosis, love does in fact require sacrifice in order to exist. I think that the sacrifices made were emotions and the sense of a family in order to love their lives and each other. Gregor's family sacrificed him so that they could learn to love each other and move on with their lives. Gregor was a hinder to the family and held them back from their passions and wants and in order to pursue those and each other they had to leave Gregor behind. In this instance a little bit of love for Gregor was sacrificed in order to gain a larger love for the family. Also, Gregor finally allowed himself to slowly let go of his life and his love for his family as he let himself die. He sacrificed himself and his satisfaction of providing for his family to allow his family to move on. He loved his family and to show that he slowly died in his room. The sacrifices made in the story The Metamorphosis were extreme in order for love to emerge.
The Stranger by Albert Camus is a story of a man, Meursalt who crossed a stranger that little did he know would change his life forever, but also about how Meursalt was a stranger to himself. He didn't feel strong emotions or hide anything. He treasured the truth and always saw and shared the way things really were. He sacrificed himself in order to stick to his morals and to always be true to himself. Meursalt had relations in the story and experienced the loss of his mother but I don't think he ever really loved because he didn't allow himself to feel strong emotions. I think that it is human nature to make ourselves believe things that aren't true and to exagerate the truth, but Meursalt never did so he never felt the intense feeling of love. In Meursalt's case, he would argue that love doesn't require sacrifice because someone can't actually feel such a strong emotion as love.
As I have been reading through these books I have noticed another theme emerging dealing with the question, is the past something that can be forgotten and left behind or is it permanent?
In the book Beloved by Toni Morrison I would like to explore the idea of the past rather than love.
I believe that the past is permanent. It is something that creates who we are now and contributes to our personality and characteristics but also our views on life and decision making. If we didn't have a past then we wouldn't be here now because you have to have a past in order to get to the present. I think this is why the past is permanent because if we were able to leave it behind and forget about it then we wouldn't really exist.
In Beloved, Sethe is forced to live and deal with her atrocious past that continues to haunt her until this day. Beloved's spirit haunts 124 and is always reminding Sethe, Denver and Paul D of Sethe's past and the actions she committed. Later on in the story, Beloved comes back to haunt Sethe and her family in human form. No matter how hard Sethe tries, she is never going to be able to go back and change her past and she will never be able to forget it. She is surrounded by constant reminders of what happened and as she tries to repress her past and forget, it comes back to haunt. No matter how far you try to run from your past, it's always going to be there right behind you watching your every move and haunting you. Sethe learns the hard way that the past is going to be permanent.