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Jessica
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What Is "True Love"?

[ Edited ]
In Chapter 1* we see the tail end of Dr. Urbino's and Fermino's life together. (I love the touching moments described in this early part of the book, considering the long and twisted path they took to get there.)

Do Fermina and Dr. Urbino succeed at "inventing true love" (as mentioned in Chapter 3, p. 159)?






*This book only has six major parts. They're not called "Chapters", nor are they even numbered, but that's how I'll refer to them for the purpose of our discussion. Thanks!

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-08-2007 10:24 AM
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BarbaraN
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Re: What Is "True Love"?

As I read Chapter 1 my feeling was that Dr. Urbino's and Fermino's life together was more of a marriage of convenience and being used to each other. At the end, when Urbino dies, I feel they truly loved each other. She was the last person he thought of and his last words were of his love for her. The feeling seemed to have been mutual at the end.

Barbara
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APenForYourThoughts
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Re: What Is "True Love"?

[ Edited ]
I agree with Barbara that their marriage did seem to be one of convenience but then, in the end, seemed like it was "true love". I think it's important to distinguish, however, between Fermina and Urbino's love and Florentino's love for Fermina. With Fermina and Urbino, it seems more mature somehow, whereas Florentino's love for Fermina exhibits more of that poetic, almost exaggerated passion. So which constitutes true love: the love between Fermina and Urbino, or Florentino's love for Fermina? It could go either way, I suppose. Marquez almost makes us believe that Florentino's love is more "true", what with Florentino's long and drawn-out sorrow and deep love for Fermina, and he presents Florentino's many affairs not as betrayals of his love, but as the only method of attempting to live with his unrequited love and eliminate some of his sorrow because of the extreme depth of the love that will not subside. However, can we really compare the two loves entirely, since one was requited and the other was not? Hmmm... I also think it's interesting to note the juxtaposition of Urbino and Florentino in regards to Fermina in the following passage: "She slept without realizing it, but she knew in her sleep that she was still alive, and that she had half a bed to spare, that she was lying on her left side on the left-hand side of the bed as she always did, but that she missed the weight of the other body on the other side. Thinking as she slept, she thought that she would never again be able to sleep this way, and she began to sob in her sleep, and she slept, sobbing, without changing position on her side of the bed, until long after the roosters crowed and she was awakened by the despised sun of the morning without him. Only then did she realize that she had slept a long time without dying, sobbing in her sleep, and that while she slept, sobbing, she had thought more about Florentino Ariza than about her dead husband." I think this is significant, because it shows that Fermina truly did love Urbino and had a committed relationship with him, but it also brings that into question by telling us that she thought more about Florentino than about Urbino. I'm probably getting a bit off topic here, and I know I'm more or less rambling, so I'll leave it at that...

Message Edited by APenForYourThoughts on 10-10-2007 06:01 PM
"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Kafka
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Jessica
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Re: What Is "True Love"?

Hi Pen & Barbara,

After reading your thoughts, I recalled comparing Dr. Urbino & Florentino, based on how they reacted upon meeting Fermina for the first time.

In Chapter 3, when Dr. Urbino is meeting Fermina for the first time, we get this: "Dr. Juvenal Urbino used to say that he experienced no emotion when he met the woman with shom he would live until the day of his death." And that "...he had eyes only for the slightest hint that she might be a victim of the plague."

Wow! Compare that to when Florentino saw Fermina for the first time: "...the girl raised her eyes to see who was passing by the window, and that casual glance was the beginning of a cataclysm of love that still had not ended half a century later" (Ch. 1).

From "no emotion" on one end to "cataclysm of love" on the other. Kind of sets the stage for how the rest of their lives played out, huh?
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foxycat
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Re: What Is "True Love"?

Is Florentino's emotion really love, or just obsession or infatuation? He's in love with an imaginary ideal that doesn't exist, not the real Fermina. It's the "love at first sight" that exists in romantic comedy films.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Jessica
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Re: What Is "True Love"?


foxycat wrote: Is Florentino's emotion really love, or just obsession or infatuation? He's in love with an imaginary ideal that doesn't exist, not the real Fermina. It's the "love at first sight" that exists in romantic comedy films.


Hi Foxycat,

1. Well, I have to play devil's advocate for love at first sight! I've seen it in action and I'm a big fan. :smileyhappy:

2. And did anyone in this novel ever know the real Fermina?

3. Personally, I wondered the same thing about Florentino being obsessed.

So I went to the trusty dictionary, who defines obsession as "a compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety" and "the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc" and, interestingly enough, "an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone."

This certainly sounds like Florentino, doesn't it?

However, because obsession -- by definition -- includes emotions & desire, I'm not sure I'm willing to disconnect obsession from love entirely. And of course, the title of the book practically commands us to believe that it's love.

(And isn't it interesting that the word 'unhealthy' shows up in the definition? Think of all the fevers Florentino suffered thinking of Fermina (see the Lovesickness discussion).

This leads me back to the original question -- did Fermina and Dr. Urbino have "true love"? Dr. Urbino may not have been as intense or passionate as Florentino, but wasn't there love for Fermina?
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foxycat
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Re: What Is "True Love"?

Yes, Urbino and Fermina had true love, the kind that grows slowly as you get to know each other, and is based on common experiences, companionship and sometimes sex. But Florentino's love, until they meet 50 years later, is based on an idealized view of the recipient. Obsession comes from possessiveness, and is a selfish emotion, unlike love. Now they must really get to know each other, and form the complex relationship called love.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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