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Can anyone give me the names of a few literary works where the characters suffer by the...

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malligajm | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 15, 2010 at 5:12 AM via web

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Can anyone give me the names of a few literary works where the characters suffer by the betrayal of the one they love?

I want to know how various persons react when they are betrayed by the person they love to compare with reactions of the charaters in the novel Gaspard, Melchior and Balthazar by Tournier.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2010 at 6:13 AM (Answer #2)

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One work is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  Victor betrays everyone he loves by creating a creature (which he abandons and then betrays by promising to create a female companion for him but he destroys her when Victor changes his mind) who becomes angry with Victor.  Instead of taking his anger out on Victor, he gets his revenge by killing off Victor's close friends and family.  Victor responds by vowing revenge on the creature.

Animal Farm is another work where characters have been betrayed by those they loved or trusted.  The animals agreed to rebel against their farmer/owner and operate the farm where animals don't work as hard but still live comfortably.  The pigs almost instantly betray the other animals and constantly manipulate them by changing the rules and spreading propaganda.  

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor is betrayed by his own family who treat him with disdain and an attitude of tolerance once he wakes up and discovers he is an insect.  Before that change, he was the sole breadwinner of the family and the one who made sure everyone was taken care of and provided for.  Afterward, they can't stand to look at him, they chase him with brooms, they yell at him, but they also begin to take care of themselves.  Gregor is injured and dying in the room that has been stripped of furniture and all things human.  His parents are contemplating a marriage for his sister who is now pursuing a musical career and becoming self-sufficient.

Hope this helps! 

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2010 at 6:51 AM (Answer #3)

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I would add Great Expectations to that above list. Often the one someone loves feels like you mean romantic love. I choose Great Expectations because no matter what your intention, you will find betrayal.

Pip, the main character, betrays his friend and brother-in-law Joe. He does this by rejecting the life Joe (as a father figure) was ready to provide at the forge as a blacksmith. Joe is also simple-minded and Pip wants more, thus, when an unknown benefactor provides the opportunity for education, he jumps at the chance.

Most importantly, the character Miss Havisham demonstrates the consequences of being betrayed by the one you love. She was engaged to a man who left her standing at the altar. He was engaged in criminal acts, and therefore a bad guy to begin with. This has left her with a hate for all men and in a time capsule of the moment he left her. She is still (30ish years later) in her bridal gown, the table is set, the cake is decaying, and her clocks are stuck at that moment.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 15, 2010 at 7:12 AM (Answer #4)

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I guess this list could be virtually endless. A few other examples would include the following:

  • George Orwell's 1984.  Winston is betrayed not only by his love interest, Julia, but also by O'Brien, the man he most admires.
  • William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily." Emily is scorned by her lover, Homer Barron, whom she kills but never quite forgets.
  • John Irving's The World According to Garp. The lovable Garp is betrayed by his wife, Helen, who takes one her college "gradual" students as a lover. This union leads directly to the death of their son, Walt.
  • William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. In one of literature's (and real life's) greatest betrayals, Caesar is murdered by his closest friend, Brutus. The assassination is initiated for the greater good of Rome, Brutus claims.
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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM (Answer #5)

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Similar to the list generated above, I would add Flaubert's Madame Bovary.  In this text, Charles Bovary, who is in love with Emma Bovary, ends up being betrayed by his wife.  Emma ends up being betrayed by the different men with whom she believes are in love with her and with whom she believes to be in love.  In the end, Emma and Charles are betrayed by their own dreams, elements for which they might have had more love than the actual person.  There is an incredible amount of suffering endured because of the betrayal at the hands of another and, in the process, Flaubert does an amazing job of showing how the weight of one's dreams causes a great propensity for betrayal.

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stella-lily-rothe | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:38 AM (Answer #6)

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  • Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff is betrayed by Cathy, which leads to his ruin and eventual insanity.  Isabelle is betrayed by Heathcliff, which causes her ruin.  Hintley is betrayed by his father, which leads to his bitterness.  Oh, so much betrayal!
  • Hamlet: Hamlet and Ophelia both unintentionally betray one another, which causes Ophelia's suicide
  • Harry Potter 7: Relationship between Snape and Lily
  • Vita Nuove: Dante is cast out by Beatrice (also a true story!), who he continued to write about for the remainder of his life.
  • Othello: Let's just say, "Poor Desdemona!"

My number one choice for your question, from my list above, would be Wuthering Heights.  The layers of deception are deep and dark, and almost everyone betrays someone at some point: with Cathy's betrayal of Heathcliff being the most heavily layered of all. 

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 3, 2010 at 4:21 PM (Answer #7)

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I will add The Kite Runner to the list.  Hassan is assaulted by a group of boys in an alley while running the kite for Amir, and when Amir turns into the alley, he quickly leaves without even attempting to help Hassan.  Hassan has loved Amir like a brother only for Amir to betray him during this critical moment.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 22, 2010 at 6:13 PM (Answer #8)

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I always felt that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is all about the betrayal of loved ones. Maggie loves Brick in her own way, and yet she is betrayed by him in her efforts of seduction and winning his parents' approval. In addition, Brick feels betrayed by Maggie. The ambiguity doesn't really clearly show us why they feel this way, but there is no doubt that they are souls in pain of the others perceived betrayal.

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