Valentine’s Day celebrates love and happiness, and although real life offers plenty of true stories with happily-ever-after endings, many of us look to literature for inspiring tales of passion’s power.

Get in the mood for love by rereading the novels, plays, and poetry about these famous lovers (not all of whom lived happily ever after):


Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s tragic tale of young love: Teenagers from feuding families meet, fall in love, marry, and ultimately end their lives rather than live without each other.


Tristan and Isolde. A medieval tale of doomed love. Tristan falls in love with Isolde, who is betrothed to his uncle, Mark, king of Cornwall. Despite their enduring love, they are forced to marry others.


Odysseus and Penelope. A happy ending for this one. Penelope remains faithful to her absent husband for 20 long years; Odysseus persists in his quest to return home after the Trojan War. Both overcome temptations and obstacles to be reunited at last.


Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Charlotte Brontë’s classic 19th-century novel tells the tale of a young governess and a gruff, lonely landowner with a dark secret. But love triumphs in the end.


Ralph and Alice Kramden. OK, it’s not a book, play, or poem but a classic TV show. Despite bickering, working-class struggles, and the occasional threat to send Alice “to the moon!” the couple stayed together with love and devotion — and lots of laughter — for years and years.

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