Oh, hormones. We humans have those, don’t we? And ridiculously enough, we’ve had them for quite some time and seem to act on them in lovely, earnest, and slightly odd ways. Whether dressed in togas, powdered wigs, corsets, breeches, or rolled up stockings, our fore-mothers and forefathers have always desperately tried (with varying success) to get into the togas, powdered wigs, corsets, breeches, and rolled up stockings of the slamming hottie of their sexual preference. How do we know this? Classical Literature tells us so. I find that Classical Literature, especially the novel, is a warm-hearted record of how our not-so-distant ancestors navigated those big, giddy, feelings. Feelings that always seem to manifest when human beings attempt to pursue companionship and population extension.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share eight of my favorite pick-up lines from the classics, four today and four on Friday. Here, in no particular order, are the first four:
1. Daniel Deronda, George Eliot
“You look good. Perhaps it is God’s command.” ~Mirah Lapidoth
Oh Mirah, your aquatic suicide (death by drowning in a water-logged cloak) was just thwarted by the super compassionate, super thoughtful, super hot Daniel Deronda. Yes, Daniel does look good (in both the moral and physical sense, this is a Victorian novel after all). And darn right it’s God’s command!
2. A Room With a View, E.M. Forster
“For something tremendous has happened; I must face it without getting muddled. It isn’t exactly that a man has died.” ~George Emerson
George Emerson: so earnest, so poetic, so determined to understand all the feelings that holding an unconscious Lucy Honeychurch are causing in his nervous system. Even though he and Lucy just saw a man get stabbed to death, holding her in his arms totes got him thinking about…other things.
3. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
“I see what you think of me. I shall make but a poor figure in your journal to-morrow.” ~Henry Tilney
Henry Tilney is just the best. His statement to Catherine Morland allows him to do two things: 1.) Show Catherine that he deeply understands the trivialities of women (he knows that a young lady’s relationship to her journal is important!). 2.) Gauge how Catherine feels about him through her reaction to his self-deprecation. Clever, clever boy, he must have a sister. Oh wait, he does have a sister!
4. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
“Your situation, Mr. Jones, is now altered, and I assure you I have great satisfaction in the alteration. You will now want no opportunity of being near me, and convincing me that your mind is altered too.” ~Sophia Western
Sophia does not suffer fools. Especially the misguided foolishness of one Mr. Tom Jones who, though swears that he has loved her since childhood, proceeds to sleep with half the women in Georgian England over the course of Fielding’s 800-page tome. Though Tom finally falls into both money and redemption (and also wants to fall into Sophia’s arms–hey-o!), Sophia knows that only time will allow her to trust his sincerity. Her wisdom and sense in the presence of such a charming rake is quite admirable.
There you have it: four down and four to go. See you on Friday…