What is enduring love?
If this question were to be asked, there would be a wide variety of answers. People tend to have different definitions of the same concept or idea that seem to fit their particular situation at hand. Everyone has their own ideas and opinions that they are able to bring to the table. With that being said, enduring love is a simple term with a complex meaning that can range from person to person. One particular person, McEwan, provides the reader with the dual meaning of “enduring” in which the relationship either lasts or must be suffered through in order to discuss the reality of true love. In his novel, Enduring Love, this running theme within the novel occurs frequently throughout by defining three different relationships and how they are able to work out the consequences of the situation at hand. These relationships: Joe and Clarissa, Jed and Joe and the Logan couple, prove a point as to whether “enduring love” really exists.
Joe and Clarissa were the main couple in the story that set the standard for how love should exist in two people. By having a common law marriage, they are able to maintain each other’s happiness solely by the presence of each other and their long talks amongst themselves. At the beginning of the novel, they seemed like perfect soulmates who seemed to endure anything that came their way. They fought through many obstacles that protruded among their relationship and appeared to be partners in crime through hard times. However, this type of partnership broke apart when Jed Parry came into their lives and destroyed everything that was able to come into his power. This event leads to them drifting further apart due to their differences in how they deal with problems. Joe begins to question his beliefs by asking himself, “was she beginning to think she had a poor deal?” (McEwan 103) This event made Joe think of Clarissa and how this event was the first time that they had handled the situation independently. Feeling abandoned and isolated, Joe resorts to paranoia in which he is not able to control his emotions and loses his trust for her as to whether she was ever loyal to him by having illusions of her cheating with other men in private. His craziness leads to Clarissa one step closer to answering the question that Joe secretly hid within himself as to whether she had made a mistake all thanks to Jed’s crazy obsession with Joe.
Jed’s love for Joe is defined as one that must be suffered through but also is endured at the same time. Jed is believed to suffer from a mental condition, De Clerambault's syndrome, in which he obsessives over Joe and believes that they are meant to be together by stalking him and sending him letters. This event all went down after the horrific aftermath of a balloon accident in which both Jed and Joe crossed paths and were left to figure out what was going to happen next. According to Jed, he believes that God has brought them together. Jed thinks he can bring Joe to God since Joe claims to be an atheist. As the novel goes forth, Jed becomes very unstable in his emotions ranging from “reasonableness, tears, desperation, vague threat- and now honest supplication.” (McEwan 69) By letting out whatever he is feeling, he is able to cause Joe various types of pressure and concerns regarding his mental and emotional state. This event leaves Joe concerned and forces him to prioritize his day according to Jed himself. Jed wants to be the center of attention and everything to focus around him. In the following chapters, Jed’s threats become stronger and stronger and enforce an impactful meaning on Joe. As Joe deals with Jed one step at a time, he tries to learn more about the balloon incident by coming into contact with the widow of John Logan and learn about her relationship with her dead husband.
Jean Logan’s loss of love is one that she must suffer through as she questions everything about the accident and assumes different things about her husband’s past choices. According to the novel, her husband was “a mild, reticent man, apparently, otherwise he might have been able to force himself usually on us as a leader” (McEwan 12). His death was very surprising to Jean due to the fact that he took precautions before embarking upon a dangerous journey that the only explanation that she had for the entire incident was that her husband was having an affair and was trying to impress his side mistress in order to receive a smile back. She needed answers from someone and quickly relied on Joe to prove her theory of her husband’s guilt. Joe agrees to help but isn’t able to offer an exact explanation with the evidence she provided to him. As a result of this whole fiasco, Joe realizes how much love she still had for her husband that she refused to take no for an answer.
In conclusion, McEwan proves a point as to whether true love really exists. By using three different relationships in which each person has a different story, McEwan is able to state several perspectives based on one singular question that is still left unanswered. Also, Joe Rose, the protagonist of the story, played a big role in all three relationships, which made the stories tie in together as a result of this horrible balloon incident. With Clarissa, Jed, and Jean, they all were different but similar in a weird way. With all this information provided, the reader is supposed to answer as to which relationship was truly the most enduring and capable of understanding each other’s weaknesses for as long as possible.
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