"Did I err in giving you my heart?
Why do I feel now that I'm not with you that I love you even more?
Why am I haunted by your face my every waking minute and every dreaming minute of my nights?
Ever since I've known you, I can't think of anyone else.
I know that you love me and I pray your love will last.
If we had another moment alone, I know you would take me in your arms.
And I long to be with you.
I long to share all those sweet moments.
Now I only dream of them.
And the longer I'm without you, the more vivid my dreams become.
I only hope that you think of me with the same passion that I feel for you.
One day we'll be together and we'll know the joys of love.
And no man, no god can prevent this.
I must stop writing now.
I close my eyes and you are here with me.
The castle is quiet, and I'm so happy.
I love you. I love you."
So I watched Valmont yesterday, the other fairly recent film made based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Most of us have seen the version Dangerous Liaisons with Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfieffer. This one had Colin Firth as Valmont, Annette Bening as Merteuil, and Meg Tilly as Madame de Tourvel. It had a less tragic and less vengeful ending.
But the letter written in the above scene gave me pause because it was so beautiful in so many ways, the kind of letter any romantic would love to receive (either that, or be scared shitless some psycho stalker is after you). And yet Valmont doesn't mean a word of it. He basically dictates it to the girl-child Cecile to write to her first crush (while he is seducing her at Merteuil's request). It's just insincere gush, a total manipulation.
It made me wonder how many words, how many things are spoken in the arena of love that turn out to be utter lies? Maybe not as blatant and heartless as the example above--many things uttered may be meant when they're said--but they turn out to be lies nevertheless?
I posted about a week ago here about how my students and I are doing a unit on Marriage and Family in America, and this is a point that came up. Marriage vows and declarations of love are so often promises that wind up broken (ie, lies). Is this because people are unaware of conditions, limits, or boundaries they have and it takes a marriage for them to discover them? Is it because they assume their partner knows what the conditions are and would never break them, no matter what? Do we make promises on the assumption that we ourselves will never change? Or are vows in reality just an expression of hope? "I love you enough that I hope I will never hurt you, never leave you, never cheat on you, and will always love you"?
Maybe the expression of hope is good enough.