Agape Love versus Erotic Love Essay
In Literature love is a common theme that authors like to employ in their work. Authors portray love differently, sometimes even combining Agape and Erotic. In these three novels; Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Ambroise Laclos, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Agape and Erotic Love are depicted.
Dangerous Liaisons is a perfect example of Erotic love with slight hints of Agape love. Pride and Prejudice is a mix between Agape and Erotic Love, and so is Like Water for Chocolate but is dominated by passionate love. Most of these novels seem to illustrate just one kind of love but lines blur as the characters evolve.
What is Agape and Erotic Love?
Love is generally categorized into these two divisions, Agape and Erotic (Eros) Love. They are always put side by side in contrast to each other. Agape is known as the nobler of the two, often related but not limited to the love of God or the love for God. Agape is “true love,” its essence is based on sacrifice. Loving others and God selflessly. It is rarely related to romantic love and never to sexual love (which is Eros). Although lovers can express this kind of love towards their partners.
In contrast to Agape, Erotic love or Eros is the sensual kind of love, hence the term erotic. It is based on the senses. This kind of love is arguably not love at all. It is loving someone for bodily pleasures. Sex for the sake of feeling good is what drives Erotic love, unlike with Agape which can also involve sex but in a spiritual sacred kind of way. Sex is seen as what is supposed to be; to procreate, not just as a pleasurable act.
Dangerous Liaisons is a story about bored aristocrats trying to find a way to pass the time while making lives of others (and in the end, even themselves) miserable. Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont engage in a bet whether Valmont could seduce Cecile Volanges, who left the convent just to be married. The characters are caught in the scheming of the two aristocrats which lead to the downfall of those involved.
Dangerous Liaisons is undoubtedly the most erotic among the three novels. It has “sex” written all over it. Surprisingly some of the characters involved are religious, which is ironic, considering that Religion is related to Agape. Despite the sexual nature of this novel, Valmont showed hints of transforming his love into an Agape kind of love.
One can argue that Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont had loved each other in an Agape kind of way, but it has long been gone and only hatred remain between the two. They don’t even express Erotic love anymore. After Valmont’s relationship with Marquise de Merteuil, he desired Presidente del Tourvel but he was presented with a challenge to seduce Cecile, not wanting to back down, he managed to seduce the two ladies at virtually the same time.
Valmont is the ultimate player; he could possibly get any woman he desires. He does not care about true love; all he wanted was to satisfy his sex drive. But unknown to him, one of his affairs, specifically his affair with Presidente del Tourvel developed into Agape. He was teased by Marquise de Merteuil that he has really fallen in love with Presidente del Tourvel.
What happens next is a predictable move for such a player like Valmont, he left both women that he has worked so hard to get. In a lesser extent, Cecile and Chevalier Danceny’s relationship is Erotic in nature because the two did not fall in love on their own alone, Marquise de Merteul had her hand on the affair because she wanted Cecile to have an affair with Danceny rather than with Valmont so she could win the bet.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a story about the Bennet sisters’ (Elizabeth, Jane, Marry, Kitty, and Lydia) struggle to find husbands. The arrival of Mr. Bingley brought them hope. Bingley is attracted to Jane, and Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s close friends is attracted to Elizabeth. The courtship is disrupted by Bingley and Darcy’s return to London. After Bingley and Darcy left, the sisters got close to the militia officers near their place; among them is Wickham who tells them of Darcy’s faults to him.
The sisters were able to reunite with Bingley and Darcy but the progress of their relationship encounters a lot of obstacles. In the end love conquered everything and Jane is married to Bingley and Elizabeth is married to Darcy.
Love in Pride and Prejudice seems innocent enough to be categorized as Agape. There were no apparent sexual desires from the characters that could give away hints of eroticism. However, the characters were initially just longing for love (or just a plain husband) because society dictates that women in the proper age (or old enough) should be married. The Bennet family was just afraid of what others would think or say if the sisters were to remain single.
This sense of maintaining good reputation that is brought about by not being an old maid makes love, at least initially, in Pride and Prejudice as technically Erotic in a social kind of way. What appeals to readers are the many hindrances that the sisters had to go through in order to find that love.
These struggles to find love make it appear that its nature is Agape when it really isn’t, yet. However, as the struggles pile up, the love between the parties involved changed. It can be considered Agape because despite the obstacles that were presented to them, the couples were still able to get married. This could either mean that the characters badly needed to get married or the more likely reason, they really love each other.
Like Water for Chocolate. Like Water for Chocolate is a story of Tita, and her love for Pedro. But Tita is not allowed to get married because of a Mexican custom that dictates the youngest daughter to be an old maid so she can take care of the mother.
Pedro agrees to marry Tita’s sister instead so he can still be close to Tita. Several years pass and finally there’s no stopping Tita and Pedro to love each other freely. They love each other with so much passion that magical-realism is needed to visually express this.
No other author could combine Erotic Love and Agape Love like what Laura Esquivel did in her novel Like Water for Chocolate. This novel is almost as erotic as Dangerous Liaisons in a romantic kind of way. For one, the main protagonist only lost her virginity near the end of the novel. But that does not mean that eroticism only starts there. Very detailed sexual encounters are found throughout the novel, not just in the end.
Notable Erotic scenes in the novel is when Tita’s sister Gertrude became so intoxicated with “love” because of the food that Tita prepared, that she emitted a scent that travelled miles away and attracted a rebel officer, she ran away with the officer while making love on horseback. Pedro’s stint as Rosaura’s wife is erotic because he only did it to be close to Tita. What makes the love in this novel as Agape is the love between the main protagonist, Tita and Perdro.
Their love is so pure and divine that the author had to include elements of magical-realism in the plot to show how real and passionate the love between Tita and Perdro is. There is no doubt that the love between Tita and Pedro is Agape in nature, they practically waited for decades before they can really be together with no one in the way.
It’s just the way the author narrates how they passionately make love that readers mistake it for being just erotic love. Sexual desire is there but it is brought about by the intense real love that Tita and Pedro have for each other.