Assignment: Examining Love Essay
In the novel ‘Message in a bottle,’ Nicholas Sparks artistically weaves suspense with emotional intensity that drives his audience on a truth-seeking mission for a man’s memories, with the goal of revealing how heartbreaks revels human fragility, and how love, through its enormous strength, subsumes all feelings and emotions. A story designed to renew our faith in destiny, and in particular, the ability of true lovers to find each other regardless of the circumstances, location, state of mind, etc., ‘Message in a Bottle’ is a detailed chronicle of the human heart. Tossed to the waves, and to its own fate, the bottle could have landed anywhere but is instead picked up barely three weeks later by Theresa Osborne, a divorced lady who has a 12-year old son. In the letter, Garret details his feelings for his late wife, Catherine, for whom he has an undying love. Drawing from their individual experiences and interactions, this paper seeks to describe the attraction between the two, Theresa and Garrett, by exploring the effects of such concepts as emotions, proximity, similarity, familiarity, repeated exposure, among others.
Primarily, based on the effects of emotion, the novel explores the theme of love in the most profound, individual-centered context unlike any other. In the letter that triggers a series of events in the lives of Garrett and Theresa, the author of the letter is actually addressing his late wife. “My dearest Catherine, I miss you my darling, as I always do, but today is particularly hard because the ocean has been singing to me, and the song is that of our life together …,” (Sparks, 1998). For Garrett, the author, the letter is an embodiment of the profound love he has for his lost wife, and the only way he can express it. For Theresa, who is wary of romance having experienced the pain of divorce, the message is not only intriguing, but sets a series of questions in her mind, specifically regarding who Garret and Catherine are, their story, and where the man is. In his depiction of the main characters, Sparks dwells almost exclusively on their emotions, and how these emotions shape the context of their interactions, and ultimately, the love they have for one another.
Theresa, having travelled all the way from Boston to Wilmington in search of Garrett, meets him on his boat, the Happenstance, and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Rather impulsively, Garrett invites Theresa for a ride on the boat, which leads to them sharing lunch, and later Dinner together. The attraction the two have towards one another, and later the emotions that galvanize their interactions, can best be described as originating from what Brogaard (2015) describes as “a wonderful and endearing quality or a deeply moving shared experience.” Rather implicitly, the emotions that characterize the mutual feeling that the two have for one another draws from the fact that they have both suffered some form of loss, one through death and the other through divorce, of people they dearly loved, hence the concept of similarity. Sparks, while reiterating this shared experience or similarity construct, intimates through a conversation between Garrett and Theresa, that “Someday you’ll find someone special again. People who have been in love once usually do. It’s in their nature,” (Sparks, 1998). Here, the author leverages their individual emotions to communicate their potential to love one another truly.
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Sparks, however, uses proximity to two different ends. On the one hand, he shows that two people meeting, and ultimately falling in love, is a matter of destiny and fate, and the distance separating them is a non-issue. Within this context, the audience understands
that Theresa already longs to meet Garrett, and takes the initiative to do so, having chanced upon a letter tossed to the ocean by someone unknown to her. Also, the fact that the two live worlds apart does not emerge as a hinderance to their meeting. On the other hand, it gets to a point where the two are so much in love with one another, that Garrett attempts to convince Theresa to leave her job in Boston and move to Wilmington with him so that they can get to spend more quality time together. Here, the author wants the audience to be in touch with the human side of love, which requires individuals to be in close proximity for effective realization and ultimate fulfilment.
Another profound aspect that defines attraction between Garrett and Theresa is the power of repeated exposure. Upon interacting with the letter, Theresa knew that at some point she would be tempted to establish more a bout the author, not necessarily out of love, but to satisfy her own inquisitiveness. Theresa, having read the letters written by Garrett, developed a social inclination towards Garret, and merely being in his presence, or just thinking about him, drove some form of pleasure in her (Atre, 2016). Theresa was able to empathize with Garrett’s experiences even before he had met him, experiences that she had never shared with him in the first place. Likewise, Garrett does empathize with Theresa when the latter shares her fears of raising her son alone. These attributes, however, become more pronounced when the two meet a second time, with the Theresa having been accompanied by her son. The two found it easier to bond, confessed their attraction to one another, and garret even found it easier to interact with Theresa’s son at a personal level. The two strangers, whose meeting can only be described as a happenstance, formed a consequential friendship that quickly progressed into love.
However, Sparks does not dwell much on physical beauty, as he does on personality-oriented attributes such as character. Instead, Sparks chooses to focus on more pristine attributes. He notes that:
But even though she was attractive, there was something else about her that caught his eye. She was intelligent, he could sense that right away, and confident, too, as if she were able to move through life on her own terms. To him, these were the things that really mattered. Without them, beauty was nothing. (Sparks, 1998).
In this regard, while beauty is something that is worthy of appreciation, Sparks does not envision it as a binding factor. On the contrary, beauty plays a more subtle role in defining the kind of intimate attractions one can have towards another. The same stance applies to familiarity, where Sparks explores the longevity of interacting with strangers more easily, with the individuals involved experiencing a spur-of-the-moment feeling of emotional connection and attractions. He however delves on familiarity by describing the relationship between the two as filled with ups and down, marked by the right feelings when they were together, and seeming rather stale when they are apart. The two were trying very hard to familiarize with one another, something that was bound to take time.
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