Earlier this week, JK Rowling revealed she regrets her decision to write Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger into a relationship. The Harry Potter author told Wonderland magazine that one of the world’s most famous literary pairings would have ended up in relationship counselling.
Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the film adaptations of the books, echoed her comments, telling the Sunday Times: “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.”
So, in light of JK Rowling outing the bookish Hermione and the prankster Ron as a mismatched union, we look at 10 other awkward pairings in literature, from hidden exes in the attic, to ill-judged office affairs.
Warning: possible spoilers ahead.
Heathcliff and Catherine (Wuthering Heights)
They are one of the best-loved literary couples, and one of the worst. Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship can only be described as mutually destructive and abusive – and deserving of a session or two on a Relate sofa. You know a pairing is on the rocks when they spend most of their time trying to hurt the other in the most malevolent means possible (like ruining their offspring). It’s the kind of obsessive love that prioritises control over a person and loses sight of the individual’s happiness. They are basically a version of Sid and Nancy on the moors.
Romeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)
Romeo and Juliet may well be one of the most irritating, self-absorbed couples to have ever graced the stage. If they were around today, they would be lovesick sixth formers writing each other bad haikus and snogging on sticky nightclub floors, while bullying their mates into covering for them. On the one hand, the whole love-at-first-sight thing is kind of cute, but on the other, you can imagine them sending naked Snapchats to each other when Romeo was banished from Verona.
Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil (Les Liaisons dangereuses)
The ultimate twisted and sadistic literary relationship. The scheming pair get their comeuppance (of sorts) when all of their philandering ends in heartbreak and tears, death and, er, smallpox. The two lovers seduce and manipulate their way through a whole host of vulnerable characters, and in the end nobody gets to have a happy ending. Probably would have been for the best if these two never met, to be honest.
Frank and April Wheeler (Revolutionary Road)
The Wheelers are one of the most nuanced and well-drawn couples in mid-20th century American literature. Richard Yates’s ambitious surburbanite spouses dream of escaping dullsville Conneticut, but their optimistic visions of the future are crushed by the realisation that a white-picket fence can act as a cage, and an animal kept in captivity all its life can get cold feet about suddenly being released into the great outdoors. In the end, the Wheelers only help to hold each other back, each blaming the other for the continuity of the mundane.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby)
Apart from the fact we are all rooting for Jay Gatsby and Daisy to get together, it is quite clear that Tom and Daisy are a horrid pairing from the very beginning of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. They treat each other like dirt and have no respect for one another, not to mention both are adulterers. They are the perfect example of an awful marriage. In a way, they are well matched because they deserve each other, in all of their selfishness, greed and arrogance.
Marius and Cosette (Les Misérables)
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Cosette, but I think we all agree Marius should have gone with Éponine. I mean, the girl literally took a bullet for him, while in the same moment handing him a letter from her love rival. She is basically the nicest person ever.
Edward Rochester and Bertha Mason (Jane Eyre)
Poor Bertha Antoinetta Mason, the archetypal “madwoman in the attic”. While we don’t get to see much of Bertha in Jane Eyre, except for the conditions of her loft-based incarceration, Jean Rhys gives us a glimpse into the young Bertha’s betrothal to Rochester in her prequel novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. Bertha, then known as Antoinette Cosway, is wedded to Rochester in the Caribbean, though the couple barely know each other. Surprise surprise, these two never really hit it off and probably should have realised that en route to the aisle before the whole thing, literally, went up in flames.
Edward Cullen and Bella Swan (Twilight)
I think this one is pretty obvious. Edward is a vampire. He’s a vampire. That is never going to be an easy ride. Nobody would put that on their Tinder profile.
Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky (Anna Karenina)
OK, so the sex was exciting and it was one of the great love affairs, but Anna and Vronsky would have had life a lot easier if they had just stuck to their marital partners – Anna especially. Of course it was the right decision to leave the dull Karenin for the passionate Vronsky, but Anna also wouldn’t have been banished to a country house and ostracised from society before ending up under a train if she had remained faithful. Swings and roundabouts.
Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver (Bridget Jones’ Diary)
If Bridget and Mark Darcy were the perfect couple, then Bridget and Cleaver were the opposite. He was arrogant, obnoxious and chauvinistic, and she couldn’t resist the lure of the bad boy (or rather the arrogant, obnoxious, chauvinistic boy). Beginning as an archetypal flirtation between employee and smarmy boss, Cleaver ended up fathering Bridget’s baby at the end of the first run of Helen Fielding’s Independent column. The pantomime villain to Darcy’s dashing hero, Cleaver was immortalised as an open-collared, smug, smirking Hugh Grant in the 2001 feature film.
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