Some of Literature’s Most Clueless Couples

Posted by Megan Christopher

In much of literature, love stories are about couples who have to overcome tremendous obstacles to be together – but sometimes the only obstacle to a happily ever after is the couple itself.

Two characters who spend most of a story arguing until a sudden realization and declaration of love is, of course, a romantic comedy staple, and not unique to the silver screen. Some of our favorite fictional pairs spend their books completely oblivious to the relationship that’s right in front of them.

Emma and Mr. Knightley in the 1996 film

Jane Austen absolutely loved this trope – so much so that the modernized adaptation of Emma was called Clueless. From Emma and Mr. Knightley, to Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and even Anne and Captain Wentworth, Austen delighted in bringing characters together with sparks. Her heroes are usually the first to realize that the maddening women in their lives are also the loves of them.

Beatrice and Benedict in the 1993 film
It’s possible that Jane Austen picked up a love of the odd couple from Shakespeare, who really cemented the idea of bickering turning to love with Beatrice and Benedict from Much Ado About Nothing. Often in these types of relationships, one party is aware of his or her feelings, and is just waiting for the other to get the hint. Beatrice and Benedict are a slightly unusual example since neither one of them realizes how they feel, and probably would never admit it, until mutual friends start scheming.
A modern Beatrice and Benedict would be Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series; they’re also “too wise to woo peaceably.”
Hermione is the first to realize where their friendship is headed, but nothing sums up clueless like their exchange after the Yule Ball in their fourth year when Hermione yells that if Ron is going to be jealous of her date, he should ask her out before someone else does, and not as a last resort. To which he replies, sputtering denials, that she completely missed the point.
“[Harry] somehow thought that Hermione had got the point much better than Ron had.”
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is completely blindsided when fellow tribute Peeta Mellark announces that he’s been in love with her for years, and writes it off as a Hunger Games strategy. Katniss is clueless about romance in general, since her childhood friend Gale’s similar declaration also takes her by surprise. Of course, the opposite sex is pretty much the last thing on consummate survivor Katniss’s mind, so it’s not surprising that it takes her three books to realize she loves Peeta too.
In Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, Tristan Thorne sets out on a quest to win the heart of the girl he loves, only to discover that the object of his quest – a fallen star – is actually a woman, and his perfect match. The star, Yvaine, spends much of their epic journey berating Tristran until she finally recognizes him for the man he’s become. Tristan, for his part, is hung up on his hometown girl Victoria, but eventually realizes the woman fighting witches at his side is the one he’s meant to be with.
Chime in below with your favorite clueless couples from literature!