Characters Who Brave the Cold for Love
Meatloaf famously sang: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” Since it’s hard to part us from our Netflix accounts and our heaters, things we wouldn’t do for love include traveling through the harshest elements of winter (sorry, loved ones – take an Uber over to us, but don’t expect us to leave the house). But not everyone is as wimpy as us, and we’ve found five characters who would brave the cold for love – fortunately or unfortunately for them.
Gerda from “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen
Gerda braves the cold and long distances to rescue Kay, her childhood friend, from the Snow Queen’s clutches. Now, this may not seem like a big deal in and of itself (well, to us it is, but remember that we are addicted to Orange is the New Black and blankets), but she’s putting in the effort for friend who had just treated her terribly. After all, Kay destroyed Gerda’s beloved garden, and there’s no excuse for that. We don’t care if you have an evil mirror shard in your eye. As if that were not enough, she has to figure out a word puzzle made out of ice blocks in order to free him. And we thought there was a lot of pressure to finish The New York Times crossword puzzle…
Sonya from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
We would do a lot for the people we love, but we wouldn’t go quite as far as Sonya. She travels to freezing Siberia to follow her crush, Raskolnikov, even after she knows he killed an old woman. Then she stays with him for eight years. Sorry, but there’s no way we would follow a killer to a penal colony in one of the most frigid parts of the world. At least her efforts are rewarded: Raskolnikov finally finds redemption and grace due to her love and support. We just hope that was enough to get her through those cold winter nights.
Mattie from Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Mattie, who’s in love with the married Ethan, embodies the dark side of intense passion. When she discovers that Ethan won’t leave his wife to be with her, she tries to use the snow to her advantage: she recommends they make a suicide pact and kill themselves by sledding into a tree. No surprise when they fail, since death by sledding is a one of the worst-thought-out plans we can imagine. Ethan and Mattie both survive, but Ethan is left with a permanent limp, while Mattie is paralyzed. She has to spend the rest of her life being taken care of by Ethan’s shrewish wife, which is pretty much the epitome of awkward.
Michael from “The Dead” by James Joyce
Teenage love is intense as all get-out, and nobody embodies that intensity more than Michael Furey. Even though he’s sick, making him the last person who should go out in the bitter winter weather, he does it so he can see Gretta’s face. Because he stands in the rain and cold, he dies from his illness. His bravery (or stupidity, depending on who you talk to) does not go unappreciated; Gretta always loves and remembers him because of his grand romantic gesture. This obviously doesn’t go over well when her husband, Gabriel, finds out about it years later, but you can’t please everyone.
Lyra from The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Like Gerda, Lyra travels through the snow to save her friend, Roger, from captivity in the Arctic. Fortunately, she has the best traveling companions ever: she gets to ride on armored bears. While she does find Roger, she’s unable to save him. He’s separated from his daemon (an animal embodiment of a person’s soul) and dies. But trekking all the way out to the Arctic does have its benefits – Lyra realizes that the aurora borealis is a bridge into another world and walks across it, because homegirl is fearless. Her travels don’t have a happy ending for Roger, but we give Lyra props for riding to the Arctic on polar bears and then pretty much walking into the sky.
After all, we still haven’t left our toasty apartments.
Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at www.thebookishfox.com.