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Love at first sight is a common trope in Western literature, in which a person, character, or speaker feels romantic attraction for a stranger on the first sight of them. Elaborated upon by poets and critics from the Greek world on, it has become one of the most powerful tropes in Western fiction. It is also considered "The most powerful type of Love"

Contents

Greco-Roman conceptions

In the classical world, the phenomenon of "love at first sight" was understood within the context of a more general conception of passionate love, a kind of madness or, as the Greeks put it, theia mania ("madness from the gods").[1] This love passion was described through an elaborate metaphoric and mythological psychological schema involving "love's arrows" or "love darts," the source of which was often given as the mythological Eros or Cupid,[2], sometimes by other mythological deities (such as Rumor[3]). At times, the source of the arrows was said to be the image of the beautiful love object itself. If these arrows arrived at the lover's eyes, they would then travel to and 'pierce' his or her heart, overwhelming them with desire and longing (love sickness). The image of the "arrow's wound" was sometimes used to create oxymorons and rhetorical antithesis con "Love at first sight" was explained as a sudden and immediate beguiling of the lover through the action of these processes. "Love at first sight" occurs in numerous Greek and Roman works. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Narcissus becomes immediately spellbound and charmed by his own (unbeknownst to him) image. In Achilles Tatius's Leucippe and Clitophon, the lover Clitophon thus describes his own experience of the phenomenon: "As soon as I had seen her, I was lost. For Beauty's wound is sharper than any weapon's, and it runs through the eyes down to the soul. It is through the eye that love's wound passes, and I now became a prey to a host of emotions..."[4] "Love at first sight" was not, however, the only mode of entering into passionate love in classical texts; at times the passion could occur after the initial meeting or could precede the first glimpse.

Another classical interpretation of the phenomenon of "love at first sight" is found in Plato's Symposium in Aristophanes' description of the separation of primitive double-creatures into modern men and women and their subsequent search for their missing half: "... when [a lover] ... is fortunate enough to meet his other half, they are both so intoxicated with affection, with friendship, and with love, that they cannot bear to let each other out of sight for a single instant." [5]

Medieval and Renaissance conceptions

The classical conception of love's arrows were elaborated upon by the Provençal troubadour poets of southern France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and became part of the European courtly love tradition. In particular, a glimpse of the woman's eyes was said to be the source of the love dart:

This doctrine of the immediate visual perception of one's lady as a prerequisite to the birth of love originated among the "beaux esprits" de Provence. [...] According to this description, love originates upon the eyes of the lady when encountered by those of her future lover. The love thus generated is conveyed on bright beams of light from her eyes to his, through which it passes to take up its abode in his heart.[6]

In some medieval texts, the gaze of a beautiful woman is compared to the sight of a basilisk.[citation needed]

Boccaccio provides one of the most memorable examples in his Il Filostrato, where he mixes the tradition of love at first sight, the eye's darts, and the metaphor of Cupid's arrow[7]: "Nor did he (Troilus) who was so wise shortly before... perceive that Love with his darts dwelt within the rays of those lovely eyes... nor notice the arrow that sped to his heart."[8]

Basis in psychology

Research has shown two bases for love at first sight. The first is that the attractiveness of a person can be very quickly determined, with the average time in one study being 0.13 seconds. The second is that the first few minutes of a relationship have shown to be predictive of the relationship's future success, more so than what two people have in common or whether they like each other.[9]

Modern use of the trope

These images of the lover's eyes, the arrows, and the ravages of "love at first sight" continued to be circulated and elaborated upon in the Renaissance and Baroque literature, and play an important role in Western fiction and especially the novel, according to Jean Rousset.[10]

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In literature

Other works of fiction which use these tropes include:

In songs

In movies and television

  • In The Simpsons, Homer Simpson falls in love with Marge Simpson at his first sighting of her.
  • In The Notebook, Noah falls in love with Allie at a carnival upon seeing her for the first time.
  • In Big Fish, Edward Bloom falls in love with Sandra Templeton the first time he sees her, although she doesn't reciprocate his love until he's hunted her down three years later.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, Joseph Gordon-Levitt falls in love with Larisa Oleynik the first time he sees her, although she doesn't see him.
  • In Raise Your Voice, Englebert 'Kiwi' Wilson Falls in love at first sight with Sloane, even though she ignores his advances for most of the film.
  • In A Cinderella Story, Austin falls in love with Sam when he sees in her eyes.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, the vampire with a soul, sees Buffy Summers being called to become the Vampire Slayer and he falls in love with her. It's also widely speculated that Buffy fell in love with Angel the first time she meets him, though they both admit their feelings to one another early in the first season.
  • In Sense & Sensibility, Col. Christopher Brandon was captivated by Marianne's voice and falls in love with Marianne at first sight when he sees her playing the piano.

References and notes

  1. ^ Tallis, Frank (February 2005). "Crazy for You". The Psychologist 18 (2). http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/search-the-psychologist-online.cfm?fuseaction=inc_getFile&ID=809&Publication_ID=1. 
  2. ^ See, for example, the Amores and the Heroides of Ovid which frequently refer to the overwhelming passion caused by Cupid's darts.
  3. ^ See Ovid's letter from Paris, below.
  4. ^ John J. Winkler (trans.), Leucippe and Clitophon, in Reardon, B.P. (1989). Collected Ancient Greek Novels. Berkeley: U of California P. p. 179. ISBN 0-520-04306-5. 
  5. ^ Hamilton, Edith; Huntington Cairns (1961). The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Princeton: Princeton UP. p. 545. 
  6. ^ From the introduction by Nathaniel Edward Griffin to Boccaccio, Giovanni (n.d.). The Filostrato. New York: Bilbo and Tannen. p. 76 n.2. ISBN 0-8196-0817-X. 
  7. ^ According to Nathaniel Edward Griffin: "In the description of the enamorment of Troilus is a singular blending of the Provençal conception of the eyes as the birthplace of love with the classical idea of the God of Love with his bows and quiver...," in Boccaccio, Giovanni (n.d.). The Filostrato. New York: Bilbo and Tannen. p. 77 n.2. ISBN 0-8196-0817-X. 
  8. ^ Boccaccio, Il Filostrato, Canto 1, strophe 29 (translation by Nathaniel Edward Griffin and Arthur Beckwith Myrick).
  9. ^ http://media.www.bcheights.com/media/storage/paper144/news/2006/02/13/Marketplace/Health.Science.Love.At.First.Sight.May.Not.Be.As.Implausible.As.It.Seems-1609819.shtml
  10. ^ Rousset, Jean (1981). "Leurs yeux se rencontrèrent": la scène de première vue dans le roman. Paris: 1981. 

Love at First Sight may refer to:

  • Love at first sight, a literary trope, in which a person feels an immediate romantic attraction for a stranger

In music:

In film and television:


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