Love = heart or not?

It is easy to say ‘let’s talk about Love’. Little hearts can fly through the air, in the diary, on whatsapp, on the bark of trees  (it would be better to avoid this form of expression. When speaking of love to trees, a verbal declaration is enough without the need to hurt them with the ferocity of one’s feelings), via sms or twitter. However, words that are not at all nice and turbulent like hurricanes can also fly.
Besides, who said that when we talk about love we only mean a relationship between two people ? Love is a much broader and creative feeling, and has no precise boundaries, taking into account the number of living beings on planet Earth, an unspecified number of billions. So let us not forget those who love and work for animals, for the environment, for the freedom of their people or for an ideal .

The word ‘love’ is probably the one that a human being utters most in his or her lifetime, so if we multiply that by all the people we know, we might find ourselves smothered with little hearts. Would anyone say that this is not the case?
Of course not! And this is because love is a very strong feeling that generates many emotions , expectations, fears and physical sensations. There are many people who are so frightened by it that they spend their whole lives trying to avoid falling in love for fear of being left or suffering (but they rarely succeed despite their efforts); just think how complicated everything can become.

This is probably one of the reasons why writers and poets , familiar with our world of beating hearts, insomnia and frenzied diary entries, have been dealing with the subject for centuries in novels , poems and stories and, let’s face it, their words have often helped us to understand something about this feeling, which is so important and at the same time so mysterious. In times of tears they have helped us to laugh about it, during those long sad waits for love they have rekindled hope, in moments of great doubt about how to behave they have provided advice, some of which might well be unexpected.

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of love? Write them down on a piece of paper and explain in three sentences why you chose them.

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A guide for undecided couples

When a young couple have been dating for a while and everything is going well, sooner or later someone starts to say the word “marriage”. It is not necessarily the couple in question, who are perhaps so far away from the idea of looking for a house, putting furniture in it and then maybe putting themselves in it. It’s not for lack of feeling, but sometimes it’s just much more relaxing not to have to deal with the idea of a future where there is a hoover (the thought of house-cleaning statistically makes hearts beat a little less loudly).

When it comes to marriage and all the family expectations, Jane Austen can come to the rescue, and even help you make important decisions about it (including the decision to remain eternally engaged, which is a brave choice!). Her ironic and at the same time indulgent look at human frailties, as in the novel Pride and Prejudice, which investigates precisely that tangled web of social customs and conventions that risk stifling the freshness of feelings. Do you remember the attitude of the parents of Elizabeth, the main protagonist? The mother wanted a “suitable” marriage for her daughter, the father wanted her to love the man who would marry her. And it is he who puts her in a dilemma regarding a suitor whom Elizabeth is not interested in:

 An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.

Considering that the novel has passed the two hundred year mark without ever aging, it may be indicative of how much feelings and compromise with social life don’t change that much!

Write a blog article explaining your view of love, whether it is important that it becomes a marriage or a partnership or whether you would like to live on your own or in your family of origin while loving someone.

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Advice for broken hearts

A first love hardly ever continues for a lifetime (some are lucky, but not many). Nothing serious, love comes back more easily than you think, it’s just that the moment of a separation is a time when the light is dimmed and it seems like nothing can matter anymore. Good news: after a sad period in which everyone around us seems happy, at ease and very much in love, we understand that healing is coming when we look at them more closely and discover that perhaps we would not want to be in their place, because they are not perfect either and sometimes… not even that much in love.

Oscar Wilde , for example, very realistically said that ‘The heart was made to be broken’ and the message he was sending was that it is part of our lives and experiences to have feelings  and sometimes be hurt by them. But he also gave some wise advice on the subject:

When a love comes to an end, weaklings cry, efficient ones instantly find another love, and the wise already have one in reserve.

It might be a good exercise to ask ourselves which category each of us feels part of. Maybe having a spare love does not always mean having another human being in mind, maybe you can discover surprising meanings about love that make your heart beat happily again, ready for new adventures. There is always Wilde who gives us a great truth on this subject:

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance

Think about how strange such a statement might seem at first sight selfish, and how self-love can make life very beautiful, welcoming, curious and healthy in relationships, both in love and friendship.

Above all, proper self-love makes it possible to broaden one’s horizons and to feel that when we speak of love, we are not just talking about one person but about the whole world. A word of appreciation to Austen, Wilde and all those who have written and still do about love.

Choose the Oscar Wilde quote that you think is closest to your way of thinking and in a tweet to a friend who is sad about the end of a relationship, add a thought that explains it and convinces him to face this difficult moment more calmly.

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A few opinions on love

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson


“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
― Jane Austen


“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”
― Oscar Wilde


“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
― Lady Gaga


“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin


“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.


“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”
― Neil Gaiman

Which of these quotes would you like to receive from the person who loves you? Which one would you choose for them?

  1. Work in pairs. Exchange the quotes you have chosen and explain why.
  2. Divide the class into groups and write down next to each quote the key word that you think corresponds to that quote (e.g. irony, sadness cheerfulness etc.). Then each group reads the chosen words out loud to the others. After exchanging your choices with your classmates, create a class mind map to hang on the wall including the keywords that each group has decided on for each quote.