Love In Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso" Essay

1503 words - 6 pages

Love has been a life driving force throughout the history of mankind. Whether it is love of self or love of another, it can be lost in desires that may seem unimportant to others but extremely important to you. People identify themselves through what they have been taught, their beliefs, and their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, while love strengthens some, it weakens others. This is a particularly interesting subject for me because I have experienced both strength and weakness in love. The character Orlando in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso is intriguing in this aspect. While he is the strongest character in this book, he is also the weakest when he falls for the fair Angelica. In this paper I will examine the difference between the love that strengthens Ruggiero and Bradamant and weakens the great knight Orlando.Orlando is a knight who processes superior strength and courage. He battles for Christianity against the Pagans for the great king Charlemagne. He is the great victor over all his battles because he is blessed by God and is invulnerable to steel of any kind. His mission for the king is interrupted by his obsession for the pagan beauty Angelica. Like Samson from the bible, he is weakened only by the love of a woman, which he can never win. We begin this story with Orlando who had been in love with Angelica for a long time. He returns to find that Angelica is now a prize from the emperor Charles to Orlando or Rinaldo. The victor is the man who slays the greatest number of pagans. At this moment Angelica flees making Orlando's mission change to recovering Angelica. We see this great hero now subject to a journey that will lead him nowhere.Angelica has a very powerful effect on men. She is beautiful and supposedly virginal making her the desired prize among men. It seems the object of most men is more lustful than a genuine love for Angelica. Even Orlando's intentions are questionable at this point. Poor Angelica is the object or symbol of lust through out the story. She is constantly fleeing from the men that desire her. Angelica is not a favorite to the reader because she is ungrateful when she is rescued and none of her pursuers have any regard for her feelings or humanity. "She becomes a symbol, and since a symbol is literally an object, she is reduced to an object to be fought over by men who have no consideration for her feelings" (Wiggins, 166). In the beginning it appears that this is not the right girl for the Christian warrior Orlando.Orlando seems to realize that every knight wants her untouched flower and it is his mission to save it for himself and possibly as prize to win over the other suitors. What we see is poor excuse for love between these two. Angelica is unappreciative of his many rescues and also a pagan the supposed enemy of a Christian. Then there is Orlando a Christian warrior who does not recognize he cannot win her or her flower. Orlando at this point goes from lust, love, to obsession...

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