In our recent post titled LOVE & HEARTACHE The Healing Power of Women’s Romantic Fiction, we said that whilst love has a powerful ability to heal it can also introduce a tremendous amount of pain into our lives. It’s the flip side of love that we prefer to ignore until we’re faced with it. We want to believe that love is pure, that we’ll go the distance with the one we love but love triggers an array of emotions that can become all-consuming. And one of those is jealousy!
It’s been glamorized in fiction and films. Think Fatal Attraction or Single White Female but jealousy isn’t a sign of love. It’s a negative and destructive emotion stemming from both desire and insecurity. Julian Barnes wrote about the awakening of sexual jealousy in a dull and otherwise sensible college lecturer in his novel Before She Met Me whilst others have used jealousy in fiction as a springboard for powerful social commentary.
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel and Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, all have left their literary mark because jealousy is something each and every one of us can relate to. It can lead us to reflect on our own relationships and how we relate to others and for those of us who find ourselves in destructive relationships where jealousy is the root cause it can remind us we are not alone. How many women have read Nancy Price’s 1987 novel Sleeping With The Enemy and found the courage to take action?
It might seem obvious that some of the best material on jealousy should be in literature. But analyzing jealousy through the lens of literature does more than simply entertain. It illuminates and provides for self-reflection. More importantly, it highlights the connection between jealousy, aggression and manipulation. It helps to identify destructive relationships patterns and on this level, no other forum for expression has greater reach than that of fiction.