I recently received a question on the Goodreads website asking who was my favorite fictional couple, and why.
My first reaction was to flip through all of the literary lovers I’d encountered over the years–a list that includes:
- Romeo & Juliet;
- Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy;
- Lancelot & Guinevere;
- Odysseus & Penelope;
- Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler;
- Cleopatra & Marc Antony; and, for you mystery fans,
- Nick & Nora Charles.
When I’d finished the sorting and the weighing, I decided that my favorite romantic couple was Beatrice & Benedict from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. We, the audience, are totally captivated as we watch this witty couple–between volleys of nasty but funny barbs–gradually, painfully, and incredulously realize that they are in love. One quick sample from a much larger scene:
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.
Benedict: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Benedict: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.
Beatrice: A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor.
But then I stopped to read the question again. Hmm . . . I wasn’t asked to name my favorite romantic couple. No, I was asked to name my fictional couple. So I scrapped my list, leaned back in my chair, and mulled it over.
And that’s when I had my epiphany. I realized that my favorite fictional couple–or, more precisely, my favorites couples–were all pairs of men. Bromances, if you will. That list includes:
- Huck Finn & Jim;
- Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson;
- Frodo and Sam (from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series);
- Hamlet and Horatio; and
- some of the many bromance pairs from the modern mystery genre, including Spenser & Hawk and Dave Robicheaux & Clete Purcell and my own creations, Rachel Gold & Benny Goldberg (although Rachel and Benny would not technically qualify as a bromance).
But then I paused and realized that my favorite bromance pair, and probably the inspiration for all the fictional bromance pairs since then, entered the literary world in 1605 in Miguel de Cervantes’ great picaresque novel. Yes, I refer to Don Quixote & Sancho Panza.
Those who’ve read the novel know that Don Quixote is the tragicomic hero whose quest in life is to revive the noble profession of knight-errantry. Though he is dignified, proud, and idealistic, he is also an absurd and insane old man. By contrast, Sancho is the peasant laborer that Don Quixote takes on as his squire when he sets out on his adventures. Sancho begins as the greedy, illiterate sidekick but ends up the wisest and most honorable man in the novel. And the funniest. The pair’s conversations along the journey are hilarious and perceptive and just plain fun. Theirs is a truly inspiring bromance. And thus they are my favorite literary couple.
What about you? Who is your favorite?