Philosophy of Love
The author of this report has been charged with picking a film or novel that centers on love. For the purposes of the report, the author has chosen The Notebook as memorialized in both book and film form. The book was written by Nicholas Sparks. The author of this report will cover several main sections in this report. The first section will be a quick paragraph or two that summarizes the story of The Notebook. The storyline, developments and details of The Notebook will then be compared and contrasted to several pieces of scholarly literature that relates to, in whole or in part, the subjects of love, social justice and fairness. While many people date and marry based on things like race, class and prestige, there are indeed many people that unapologetically and joyfully break that trend, much to the potential dismay of their family and/or friends.
The storyline behind The Notebook is a fairly formulaic and common one throughout history but it is told in a very adept and fascinating fashion. The two main characters in the movie are man named Noah and a girl named Allie. The movie begins in the future and depicts a woman with advanced Alzheimer's remembering and forgetting the days of her younger years when she met her husband. The story then goes back to when it all began in 1940. A young heiress by the name of Allie is at a fair and so is the aforementioned Noah, the latter being a blue-collar worker that would, for that reason alone, not normally be associating with (let alone dating) a woman like Allie. Even so, they end up talking and falling for each other. They even try to have sex in an abandoned house but they are interrupted by Noah's friend Fin. Fin notes that Allie's rich parents are looking for her and the parents are none-too-pleased when they find out she has been fraternizing with a man like Noah. Allie's parents forbid her from associating with Noah again so they break it off. Soon thereafter, Allie leaves the area and is unable to connect with Noah before she leaves. Noah soon enlists (along with Fin) in the military and goes to fight in World War II. Allie moves on and takes to another war vet, this one much more connected and rich, by the name of Lon. Even with their separation, Noah writes Allie for an entire year in a notebook. The notebook is even sent to Allie but her mother sees to it that the notebook is not seen by Allie (IMDB, 2015).
Noah returns home from the war and buys the house that he promised Allie he would buy and restore prior to their breakup. Allie takes note of the house restoration being announced in the paper and reconnects with Allie. Allie is at first incredulous that Noah never wrote her but Noah corrects the record on that. Allie then finds herself conflicted and wonders if she should marry Lon as she was set to do at the time or if she should return to Noah. The film and book end with a return to the present and a revelation that Allie picked Noah. Soon thereafter, Noah fell ill and ended up in the intensive care unit in a bed right alongside his dementia-ridden wife. They both die peacefully in the same night…holding hands (IMDB, 2015).
Of course, that is a story that is made to invoke feelings and entertain audiences. When it comes to love stories in either film or book form, The Notebook is one of the favorites of quite a number of people. Even with the fairy-tale nature of the book, there are some strong realities to it. There can even be a sense of justice when it comes to love. The latter notion or idea may seem foreign to many people. One of the ultimate sources that could be pointed when looking at The Notebook would be the work of Erich Fromm and his treatise The Art of Loving. One major point that Fromm makes in his book is that "true love and intimacy" is the practice of loving one person…and only one person…in a complete and unabashed way. This can be seen throughout The Notebook but there are several points where it is screamingly obvious. For example, when Allie is conflicted between staying with Lon and going back to Noah, she chooses the latter because she knows this is the person she truly loves. Noah returns the favor in the "present" part...
Fromm also spoke of "self-love." Allie obviously respects and loves herself. If she were weak-minded, she would subjugate herself to her mother but she is able to eventually break free from what her mother did. She failed at self-love when she was told by her family and end it with Noah but she gets it right later when she breaks things off with Lon. One major facet of Fromm's definition of self-love is to know one's self. Allie knew she wanted to be with Noah and she probably felt that way even when she thought that Noah was not writing her. However, when all of the facts become known, she makes an informed and self-loving decision to leave Lon and embrace Noah. That embrace lasts until the very end and is emblematic of a love that is borne of true love and intimacy, as described and detailed in Fromm's work (Fromm & Anshen, 1956).
The other over-arching source that the author of this report wishes to analyze and compare The Notebook would be the Philosophy of (Erotic) Love as authored by Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins. The book is a compendium and anthology of the work of many of some of the most visionary people that spoke about love including Plato and Freud. One of Plato's works that was cited in Solomon's book was Symposium. One major facet of that work was the distinction by Pausanias between "good" and "bad" forms of love. The pervasively skewed actions of Allie's mother throughout the movie were clearly bad forms of love. On the other hand, Allie's eventual return and lifelong commitment to Noah was a "good" form of love. Further, Plato's work speaks of how "medicine, comedy and tragedy, all three of which are important components of a healthy life." There was certainly a lot of all three in the lives of Allie and Noah. Examples of tragedy in The Notebook would include Allie getting dementia, Allie and Noah breaking up for a time even though they truly loved each other and their eventual death together. The falling ill of Noah was exceptionally tragic because it was completely unexpected as compared to the eventuality that would surely come with Allie due to the known nature of her condition. In any event, their parallel deaths could be viewed as tragedy or a victory, depending on one's perspective (Solomon, 1991).
Kleingeld and Anderson have some words about "justice as a family value" and there are some clear correlations that can be linked between those words and the plot lines of The Notebook. Even so, this is a topic that is foreign and unknown to a lot of people. To specifically quote Kleingeld, it is stated that "many discussions of love and the family treat issues of justice as something alien" (Kleingeld & Anderson, 2013). However, it is clear that Noah and Allie have different notions of "justice" and "fairness" (which are inextricably linked) and one could actually say the same about Lon. For example, it could be said that Noah felt he owed it to Allie to be there to the very end because she did eventually to choose to be with him. Surely, the fact that he loved her was also part of the calculus. However, Allie's choices from her end were based on justice and fairness and Noah's were certainly the same way. He also kept his word about the house. He said he would build the house and he did. Since justice is all about rules and order, this is yet another way of proving the point. Kleingeld and Anderson talked about the "four conceptions of the alleged opposition between love and justice in the family" and there was clearly a lot of that going on. Allie was shielded and protected in a way that treated "lesser" people like Noah as a cancer and a negative influence. To be specific, the people were pounding the streets looking for Allie when Allie and Noah were in that abandoned house about to make love. This could be correlated to Kleingeld and Anderson when they said "the opposition between love and justice is a standoff between a vulnerable world of familial love and an encroaching, impersonal world outside." Allie's mother thought she was being just and was protecting her daughter from the outside world. However, she was clearly overstepping her bounds, she was not being fair…
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