UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Romantic love, ecstasy, and deprivation Moore, Maureen Audrey


This thesis treats the concept of romantic love in relation to women. It attempts to show that the stereotype of romantic love is a fantasy construction which supplies compensation to women who lack status and identity. The qualifier 'romantic' refers to the ecstasy which is thought to occur within the love experience. This ecstasy was present within the concept of courtly love and it has now become popularized as the prerogative of any lover and as a hallmark indicating the validity of love itself. In order to show the relationship between the present concept of romantic love and the social position of women, modern love-novels were examined and romantic love was then compared to spirit possession. A sample of books from the Harlequin Romance series was described and status differences between characters were counted. The difference between the initial and final situations of the romantic hero and heroine were noted. The analysis of love in the books shows that inequality in terms of gender membership is a precondition for love and that the heroine suffers some kind of initial lack which is fulfilled by her final unification with the hero. It is concluded that the dynamics of possession and romantic love are similar, that both kinds of ecstasy provide compensation for deprivation, and that individuals who succumb to possession, and women who are attracted to romantic love, are in a similar position in their societies. Thus romantic love functions as a way of dealing with deprivation. Women who lack status and identity seek the compensation of ecstatic love wherein they feel themselves to be possessed by a superior man.

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