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Dysfunctional Couples in Literature

The 6 Most Dysfunctional Couples in Literature

Love and relationships is a common theme in literature. YourTango shares six dysfunctional couples that stand out in these well-known titles.

The pairings that will make any couple feel normal.

OK, so have you ever wondered if you and your sweetie are "normal?" You probably aren't. The fact is, we're all a little weird, in our own way. But if you really need to feel better, try out the top dysfunctional couples in these six love stories. If they don't make you feel better about you and your SO, nothing will. (Beware, there are a few mild spoilers).

  1. Catherine & Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
    This couple proclaims to be in love, but spend the majority of the novel torturing each other by marrying others and using spite and jealousy to drag not just themselves, but their spouses, into a spiral of despair. Yeah, that's a healthy situation.
  2. Mr. Rochester & Bertha Mason – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
    Speaking of healthy situations, nothing says "functional" like locking your certifiably crazy wife up in the attic while trying to woo a sweet young governess. Mr. Rochester might be the victim (being duped by Bertha's family and all) but that's still not a smooth move.
  3. Lola Quincey & Paul Marshall – Atonement, Ian McEwan
    Raped at 15, Lola later goes on to marry Paul . . . her rapist. Whether she knew he was her rapist or not is unclear, but in any case, it's twisted as all get out. Really, that's all you need to know.
  4. Frank & April – Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
    Another case of a couple torturing each other to death and beyond is found in Frank and April. The vehemence with which they go after each other is legendary (though it did make for a great movie), and the sexual and emotional games they play are unbelievable.
  5. Tom & Daisy – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
    This pair truly deserved each other. They were each in their own way incredibly cruel, selfish, and almost sociopathic in their disregard for the feelings and lives of others. Daisy might have at one time been a realistic object of Gatsby's love, but by the time he found her again she was a shallow, self-absorbed, and altogether terrible person.
  6. Lolita & Humbert Humbert – Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
    The granddaddy of them all is found in Lolita. Humbert, a lover of young girls, takes advantage of a troubled 12-year-old. He becomes her stepfather and, after her mother passes, abuses Lolita with his "love" (aka, pedophilia), eventually sending her life off the rails completely.

—Kristen Droesch

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