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The charm of romance is eternal.

— Karmayogi


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Level 5 - Affection

Affection is emotional enjoyment of the other person. Affection emanates from the heart. Energy expressing in our emotional center generates intense feelings of affection. At the physical level there is an urge to hold, grasp, and possess the other person in order to derive security, comfort or pleasure from the interaction. At the emotional level there is an urge to give oneself to the other person in order to please and make the other person happy. When affection is very physical, it can be possessive and demanding. True emotional affection for another person is incapable of shouting, anger or meanness of any kind. It is only the vital ego that wants to dominate which can try to hurt the other person. The higher and purer the affection, the less the intensity of the sexual urge. At the same time physical intimacy becomes far sweeter and uplifting because the intensity comes from the pure enjoyment of one’s affection for the other person.

Frank & Mary

In Dr. Thorne, Anthony Trollope portrays the love story of Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne. Frank is the descendant of a long line of Greshams, the richest landowners in their county who had served as its representative in Parliament for many generations. His mother came from a titled and far wealthier aristocratic family. Her social and material demands were so great that Frank’s father was forced to borrow heavily on the family property and eventually to sell a large part of the estate to a self-made Sir Roger Scatherd, a millionaire businessman. Gresham’s debts to Sir Roger continued to mount, jeopardizing what remained of Frank’s inheritance. Mary Thorne was the illegitimate, adopted niece of Dr. Thorne, the Greshams’ family physician. Both Frank and Mary believed she was actually the doctor’s daughter, though Frank’s parents knew and kept the secret during years when the children grew up together as playmates. When Frank came of age he announced his intention of marrying beautiful Mary. His mother vigorously protested and sent Frank away, arguing that Frank must marry a wealthy woman in order to restore the family’s financial fortunes. In spite of her ardent love for Frank, Mary did all she could to discourage Frank from displeasing his parents. But Frank remained true and adamant in his love for her, even when he was informed that she was illegitimate as well as penniless. Frustrating all his mother’s attempts to prevent it, Frank finally declared his intention of marrying Mary. Then it was revealed by Dr. Thorne that Mary was actually the niece and heir to the deceased Roger Scatherd’s enormous fortune, which meant that she already held legal title to more than half of the Gresham property. Frank’s unwillingness to renounce his love for Mary in spite of intense social pressure and the prospect of ruin, and Mary’s unwillingness to accept his love for fear of the harm and disgrace it might bring on him and his family, reflect the depth of affection with which they loved one another. The sincerity of their feelings enabled each of them to willingly sacrifice for the good of the other. More significantly, it had the strength to fully restore Frank’s family heritage and Mary’s social legitimacy. Love has that power over life.

Inman & Ada (Cold Mountain)

When it gives rise to physical or vital attraction, love at first sight may last only as long as the partners are in physical or social contact. But when it touches the deeper emotions of the heart, even a few moments together can give birth to an affection that outlives years of separation and silence. It forms an emotional bridge of connectivity that can enable the lovers to overcome incredible obstacles to reunite. In Cold Mountain, a beautiful city-bred preacher’s daughter named Ada Monroe meets a shy, handsome woodworker named Inman in a secluded rural part of North Carolina at the outbreak of the Civil War. Though they exchange only a few formal words, their hearts respond to one another. When Inman enlists to fight for the South, they exchange photographs and a single parting kiss. After the death of her father, Ada finds herself helpless, defenseless and pursued by a local bully named Teague. Daily she voices a heart-felt prayer for Inman to return. The sins he has committed in battle make Inman feel unworthy of her love. Only partly recovered from a serious wound received in battle, he risks death for desertion and travels the long dangerous road back to Cold Mountain. At one point he is given shelter by a beautiful young woman with child, who offers herself to him. In spite of feeling a strong physical attraction for her, his longing for Ada prevents him from responding to her invitation. Inman eventually meets Ada and after she conceives with a child, he then kills Teague before being mortally wounded himself. His love was powerful enough to find her and protect her and leave her with a son to raise. The strength of their affection could achieve this much despite the extreme social turmoil and destruction of war.

Immortal Infatuation (Romeo and Juliet)

We find a similar instance of intense emotional love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here too, the young lovers were separated by powerful social barriers because they came from traditionally warring families. Here too, the lovers cared only for one another and threw aside the objections of family and society. Why then did their love end in the tragedy rather than blissful fulfillment? In this case, the lovers were extremely young, very impulsive and desperately impatient. Unlike Frank and Mary, they lacked the patience and maturity to wait for circumstances to improve. Patience requires strength. Their love had intensity but no strength to wait and persevere. Impulsiveness and impatience can never serve as the basis for accomplishment in life or romance. True romance is forgetful of self. It requires sacrifice not wild, reckless or desperate demands. It is willing to give with no thought of return and regards only the happiness and fulfillment of the beloved.

Lancelot & Guinevere (First Knight)

Lady Guinevere’s escort is attacked by a powerful warlord while she is en route to Camelot to marry the noble King Arthur. Lancelot, a wandering vagabond swordsman, rescues her from the attackers. He is instantly attracted by Guinevere’s majestic beauty and noble character. She feels the powerful lure of his physical manliness and courage, but resists his sexual advances. Lancelot arrives in Camelot just in time for her wedding with Arthur. Shortly afterwards she is kidnapped by the same warlord, who wants to gain her kingdom by blackmail. Again Lancelot single-handedly saves her. His confidence, courage and willingness for self-sacrifice move her deeply and she has to struggle not to give in to the powerful emotions that draws them to one another.

Knighted for his heroic service to the crown, Lancelot remains in Camelot, secretly nurturing an all-consuming passion for the queen. Eventually he comes to accept the ideals that Arthur stands for and decides out of respect for the King and Queen to leave Camelot forever. His acceptance of noble ideals elevates him even further in her emotions. Heartbroken to be losing him forever without ever having felt the joy of his love, she offers one kiss. Arthur discovers them embracing and is furious at their treasonous betrayal. In defense she explains that her love for both men is real and true, but different. She loves and worships Arthur with her all her heart’s purity and mind’s admiration. At the same time she feels powerfully drawn toward by a physical and vital passion elevated and ennobled by a deep emotional bond of affection and self-giving. The contrast between the two relationships brings out both the most positive aspects and two very different forms of romance.

Jerry & Dorothy (Jerry Maguire)

This movie depicts the unlikely romance between a high flying, high energy sports agent and a shy, homely accountant. After Jerry writes a memo proposing that his agency he works for adopt higher ethical standards in serving their clientele, Jerry is summarily dismissed from his lucrative job. Inspired by the courage and values espoused in his memo, Dorothy is the only employee at the firm willing to stand up for principles and follow Jerry’s lead. So she quits her job and together they establish a separate company, but manage to retain only one of Jerry’s former clients. With no income and no prospects, they struggle to make ends meet. When Jerry’s glamorous girlfriend also deserts him, he is left failed and friendless. Through it all, Dorothy remains loyal and offers unstinting support. Jerry develops a fondness for Dorothy’s son from a previous marriage, has a one-night affair with Dorothy, and then overhears her telling her sister how much she loves him. Finally Dorothy senses that Jerry is only maintaining their relationship out of sense of appreciation for the support she has offered him, so she announces that she is leaving to take a job in another city. Jerry impulsively proposes to her on the spur of the moment and they marry. Again after marriage, she feels that she and her son have trapped Jerry into a relationship that does not suit him and she decides to withdraw. After months of total failure in his work, Jerry finally has a major breakthrough when his sole client achieves superstar status and signs a huge multi-year contract. Finally vindicated in the decisions he has taken, Jerry discovers that without Dorothy his success brings him no sense of fulfillment, so he rushes back to reunite with her.

Through their relationship Jerry moves from the charms of sexual and vital attraction to discover the greater richness and sweetness of lasting affection. As in the case of Mae Braddock in Cinderella Man, Dorothy’s intense goodwill and affection are a powerful support for her lover’s high achievement.

Edward & Elinor (Sense & Sensibility)

Elinor, Marianne and Margaret are daughters of Mr. Dashwood who died leaving his wife and daughters with very little means to support themselves. Elinor develops an affection for Mr. Edward Ferrars, her sister-in-law's wealthy brother, and her feelings appear to be reciprocated. Edward has been engaged for many years to Lucy Steele, whom he met in his youthful days but does not love anymore. He wants to tell Elinor about it, but he does not find a suitable opportunity. Later Elinor hears about it from Lucy herself and is heartbroken. Though Elinor and Edward harbor strong feelings of love for one another, he feels bound by his commitment to Ms. Steele. Elinor feels resigned to accept that commitment and remain an aging spinster. Then suddenly Edward receives a letter from Lucy informing him that she has fallen in love with his brother, Robert, and they have married. Edward goes to Elinor to express his true feelings and they are reunited happily in the end.

The story vividly represents the power of pure emotions, unmixed by possessiveness, impulsive attachment, egoism or assertiveness. Elinor controls and refrains from expressing her deep affection for Edward until the power of her love removes all obstacles and brings her love to her. Her love is sharply contrast to the flighty impulsive physicality of her sister Marianne, described in Level 2.

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Level 3 - Compatibility

Remember your grandparents’ routine? They woke up, without an alarm, at the same time everyday, and went about their day in a methodical fashion. Every tiny act had its time and place. They knew each other’s routine perfectly, and could anticipate the other’s behavior. Whatever it was one wanted, be it a cup of coffee, a towel, reading glasses or slippers, the other would have it ready before it was asked for. There may not have been spectacular romance, they may have had their tiffs, but even that seemed part of the day‘s script. Overall, it was a picture of security, stability, and compatibility.

Charlotte & Collins (Pride and Prejudice) 

Charlotte Lucas and William Collins have such a stable relationship. Already well past the age when most young woman in her day wed, Charlotte seeks marriage for the financial and social security it provides. She has no thought or hope of finding romantic love. In Collins, she sees a respectable future for herself, and she is satisfied. Having been educated at Oxford and been appointed to a lucrative position as clergyman at a young age, Collins seeks marriage as a means to round out the perfection of his social attainments. Charlotte is sensible and practical. Collins is foolish and lost in love of himself. But the two of them seek marriage for similar or complementary reasons that make them wholly compatible with one another. They each accept the other as they are. They recognize the good in one another, and do not waste their time and energy looking for flaws. Their lives are well-organized and their energies are applied constructively, resulting in a stable, harmonious relationship. Charlotte tends to the house and poultry. Collins is engaged with church activities, and spends his spare time in the garden. They are polite and formal with each other as when they socialize with neighbors. They both consider themselves fortunately and happily married. In Collins words, “We seem to have been designed for each other.”

Collins and Charlotte are an example of a positive relationship at this level, because they do not ask for or expect more and they both maintain the good manners and self-discipline needed for relationships to remain positive. Positive relationships at this level are quite easy to recognize. They are stable, consistent and permanent because they are organized on a regular basis around recurring activities such as managing a household or raising a family. They may lack the passion of the previous level but they also lack the turbulence and inconsistency. When the partners are positively related in other respects, they may feel a sense of familiarity, satisfaction and physical harmony. When the partners are in conflict or fail to be well-mannered and considerate of one another, relationships at this level can become flat, dull, boring and empty, but the routine of organized family life may still hold it together.

The Bennets (Pride and Prejudice)

In these egalitarian times, we frown on references to differences in class and culture, but class and culture can be critical determinants of successful relationship. The problems of incompatibility arising from class differences are powerfully brought out in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. He is a well-educated, cultured, intelligent country gentleman with a refined mind, excellent manners and aristocratic breeding. His wife, the daughter of a middle class family, is a beautiful, energetic, empty-headed woman with a loud voice, coarse manners and impulsive behavior that often borders on vulgarity.

The two rarely see eye to eye on any subject. They express no affection for one another . She often complains to her husband, but rarely about him. In return he teases and her mocks gently but without meanness. Between them, they run a large, cheerful and smoothly functioning family and estate. They each carry out their responsibilities in an organized manner. Mrs. Bennet manages the household efficiently. She plans her dinners meticulously according to the importance of the guests. She pays attention to the last detail in her daughters’ dresses. She knows all about every eligible bachelor in the neighborhood. Her mission is to get her daughters married, and she prepares for that accomplishment much like a military general waging a major campaign.

Mr. Bennet leaves the household to his wife, takes charge of the estate and the family’s finances. He manages the farm, keeps his family from spending beyond their income, and remains the quiet figurehead of the family. He does not try to dominate his wife. She does not fight with her husband. Neither shout, dispute, criticize or hurt the other. They are not selfish, mean or cruel. They maintain a polite, well-mannered relationship both in pubic and at home. So even in the absence of real affection, the family is positive, harmonious and successful. Though very different, they share common goals and live peacefully and compatibly together.

The Greshams

In Dr. Thorne, Anthony Trollope depicts a successful but unfulfilling example of level 3 relationship. Squire Gresham is a large rural landowner from a distinguished family. At a young age he marries the Lady Arabella, who hails from a titled and far wealthier aristocratic family. The squire enters Parliament as an MP representing his region, as his forefathers did for generations before him. Accustomed to living extravagantly, Lady Arabella and her daughters make enormous financial demands on his estate. Gresham’s problems are aggravated when he changes political party at the instance of his wife’s family and then loses two costly election campaigns while unsuccessfully trying to regain his seat in Parliament. Having borrowed heavily on the family property, he is eventually forced to sell a substantial portion of the estate. Still the debts continue to mount.

The relationship between the squire and his wife is polite and well-mannered on the surface, but marred by an undercurrent of complaint, criticism, and recrimination. Seemingly oblivious of the misfortune that she and her family have brought to her husband by her extravagant behavior, Arabella faults him and constantly decries the unreasonable restraints on her life style. He silently blames her for her arrogance and blind selfishness. The daughters sympathize with their mother, the only son Frank with his father. Through the years the squire becomes increasingly lonely and depressed by his failure to sustain the family property. Though they maintain civil behavior in public and conduct household affairs without open dispute, their relationship has long since lost any sense of personal regard or affection toward one another. When they were married, the union was thought to be respectable and socially advantageous to both families. But in the absence of emotional intimacy, the social differences between them wore down their patience and goodwill, leaving only a shell of formal and functional relationship.

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