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I Want My Beloved To Be Happy / Literature

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  • The Fool does this to Fitz in Robin Hobb's Tawny man trilogy, when Fitz announces that he would choose to go with The Fool rather than going to reclaim his erstwhile lover Molly. But the Fool knows that Fitz would never be able to have a meaningful relationship whit both of them, so he insists that Fitz leave him to go find Molly. Thus paving the way for them to be together while putting Fitz forever out of the Fool's reach.
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  • Done devastatingly in Animorphs when Jake proposes to Cassie and she tells him to wait, then ask her again in a year if he still wanted to be with her. She knew herself and she knew Jake and she knew that as much as they loved each other, their relationship was never going to end happily.
  • The E. E. Cummings poem "it may not always be so".
  • In Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, Erik/The Phantom allows Christine to go off with Raoul and be happy. In the movie, he becomes a Stalker with a Crush and has to be brutalized.
  • This is the whole plot of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the inspiration of the imitators of his method.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel The Curse of Chalion Cazaril, the protagonist, decides he's not young or rich enough to be a good match for Betriz, who's half his age, and tries to set her up with his friend Palli. She however is having none of it. It's Cazaril she wants, especially if she can persuade him to shave off his beard.
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  • In The Brothers Karamazov, Dmitri Karamazov plans to commit suicide due to the circumstances immediately surrounding him and the disgrace he perceives is upon him, and decides that before he goes he's going to make her happy one last time. He ends up with her, but those aforementioned circumstances really bite him in the ass later.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan, Designated Best Friend Afra Lyon pines away for the title character, only to wait too long and watch Marty Stu Jeff Raven swoop in and claim her. (Though, being a powerful telepath, The Rowan knew that nearly all along, but doesn't want to ruin their friendship, admitting that she would've turned to Afra eventually.) Made creepier by the fact that Afra's loyalty is "rewarded" by hooking up with The Rowan and Jeff's youngest daughter, Damia. (Does anyone know if Stephenie Meyer has ever read McCaffrey?)
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  • This situation develops in Dragonriders of Pern's Harper Hall Trilogy: Masterharper Robinton starts to get intimate with prized pupil Menolly, despite Menolly being involved with his other prized pupil, Sebell. He immediately nips it in the bud, citing their ages, positions, and her other attachment. This is despite the fact that, as Menolly states, "[She] loved [him] first." And later it's shown that Sebell not only knew all about Menolly's feelings but understood and accepted them.
  • In the semi-historical romance novel The Lady Royal by Molly Costain Haycraft, Princess Isabel of England (daughter of Edward III) is engaged to marry Bernard d'Albret, a young man with whom she is deeply smitten. However, she learns that Bernard has a strong religious vocation and longs to become a monk, against the wishes of his tyrannical mother. Isabel breaks off the engagement in such a way that it allows him to enter the monastery under the pretense of a broken heart. When he later dies, he tells his brother the truth on his deathbed, and blesses the princess for setting him free.
  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • Elizabeth deconstructs this as she realizes that her calm response to Mr. Wickham courting Miss King means that, while she cares about him, she was never in love with him. Were she in love with him, she would have nothing but contempt for him for choosing another girl.
    • Played straight by the considerable lengths Mr. Darcy goes to save Lydia Bennet from her own idiocy before she and the rest of her family are Defiled Forever. He's motivated in part by a sense of responsibility in not having spoken up about Mr. Wickham's true character before, but the rest of his motive is to protect Elizabeth and make her happy. Then he swears Lydia and the Gardiners to secrecy regarding his involvement, and when Elizabeth finds out anyway and tries to thank him, he refuses to accept her thanks on the rest of her family's behalf: "Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you."
  • In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is the master of this trope. Her love interest is engaged to someone else. That someone else informs her of it in confidence (while harboring deep — and correct — suspicions that Elinor is in love with him too, and so warns her off and keeps tormenting her in subtle ways for the greater part of the book). Elinor not only keeps the secret and endures the indirect attacks with aplomb, but there's a scene where she actually leaves them together on purpose so that they can have private time. It's especially painful because she knows perfectly well that her beloved will not be happy in this situation, but she also knows that societal expectations mean that he has to go through with what he intends.
  • One of the more classic examples occurs at the end of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities when Sydney Carton, knowing his beloved Lucie will never love him as she loves Darnay uses his near identical likeness to Darnay to take his place on death row, allowing Lucie and Darnay to escape together while he is executed in Darnay's place.
  • Troy, in the V. C. Andrews Casteel series, after finding out that he and Heaven (the protagonist) are uncle-and-niece (oh those wacky V. C. Andrews incestuous relationships), cuts off contact with her for her own good, then inadvertently fakes his own death, then leaves Heaven alone for a while, believing he's dead, so she can date and marry Logan, then after a few years they get together for a last fling, during which Heaven's daughter is conceived and Heaven returns to live the rest of her life with Logan.
  • In Captain Blood: His Odyssey, Blood believes Arabella to be in love with another man and is willing to let her go. When he realizes that she is not going back to England with this man, it dawns on him that he has hope.
  • In the Twilight series, Edward leaves Bella for these reasons.
  • Beautifully subverted in the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. Dirk spends about half his time pining over Talia and the other half trying to get her together with his best friend Kris, and ends up thoroughly exasperating both Talia and Kris - who happen to love each other dearly but are quite positive they're Better as Friends, thank you very much. Not to mention that Talia is madly in love with Dirk and Kris really would just like to see his two dearest friends happy, preferably with each other. Shame about Ancar, really.
  • In the last two books in the Harry Potter series, Remus Lupin does this regarding Tonks. Subverted in that he's the only person who ever thinks it's necessary, because Tonks wants to be with him and most of the people they know want them to be together too. Also, Lupin doesn't act the way he does because he thinks Tonks should be with a specific other person - he just thinks she deserves better than himself.
  • In Beastly, Kyle allows Lindy to go rescue her sick father despite it possibly meaning losing his chance to turn human forever. In fact, he nearly releases her several times since he finds it very hard to believe that anyone can love a monster.
  • Bridge of Birds: Henpecked Ho sets his own concubine up with her (mutual) crush, because he loves her so much he doesn't want her to be stuck with an ugly old "worm" like him.
  • Agatha Christie used this in quite a few books:
    • Probably the straightest example is Jefferson Cope from Appointment with Death. He only asks Nadine Boynton to run away with him because he believes she can't possibly be happy with her current husband. Once the situation changes and Nadine decides to stay, he is willing to go back to being friends.
    • Bella Duveen from The Murder on the Links is willing to set her fiancé free so that he can marry the girl next door. She also falsely confesses to the murder to try to protect him, even after finding out he wants to marry someone else.
    • This trope was combined with Love Makes You Evil in Death on the Nile. Jacqueline was willing to let her one true love Simon marry her best friend Lynette when she realized that Lynette was in love with Simon and Simon was in love with Lynette's money. When Simon insisted he wanted both Jackie and Lynette's money, Jackie helped him with his plan to marry and then murder Lynette.
    • This appears to be the case in Towards Zero with Neville Strange, who pretends to run away with another woman after his wife Audrey leaves him, so that Audrey can keep all public sympathy in the divorce. However, it is subverted when it turns out Neville only takes the blame for the divorce because his pride won't let him admit to the world that Audrey had left him. He spends the next several years plotting Audrey's murder.
    • In The Secret Adversary, Tommy eventually reveals that he would have been perfectly willing to bite his tongue and let Tuppence marry someone else—for money, no less!—simply because he loved her so much that he wanted her to do whatever made her happy.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, when Miss Angorian, the pretty teacher that Howl was courting, is kidnapped by the Witch of the Waste, Sophie goes to rescue her even though she is herself in love with Howl. It turns out that Miss Angorian is the Witch of the Waste's fire demon and faked her kidnapping so that Sophie, Howl's true Love Interest, would fall for it.
  • Forever Amber has a particularly demented version of this trope. Queen Catherine, depressed at the realization that she likely won't be able to give King Charles II an heir, falls sick and wishes to die, since if she does, Charles can marry Frances Stewart and get the legitimate heir he's always wanted. When she tells this to Charles on her deathbed, he is horrified to realize that she's driven herself to suicide on his part, and begs her to live. He does not, however, give up his extramarital affairs, which were probably what mentally damaged Catherine so badly in the first place.
  • In the original Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan and Jane are separated (seemingly for good) when Jane chooses to honor her obligations and stay with Clayton. Tarzan by this time has discovered, and has the evidence necessary to prove, that he is the long-lost heir to the late Lord Greystoke, thus the title and wealth Clayton claims are his by right. Rather than using this newfound status to go fight for Jane, he chooses to go back to Africa, reasoning that enriching himself at Clayton's expense won't do anything to sway Jane's sense of honor, only reduce the chances that her marriage to Clayton will be a happy one.
  • In The Iron Hand of Mars Marcus Didius Falco discovers that his patrician Love Interest Helena Justina is being courted by the Emperor's son Titus. Falco knows that she doesn't love Titus, but out of a belated sense of patriotism — and feeling that he can't stand in the way of her getting such a tremendous social advancement — urges Helena to accept. Helena calmly responds that she's already turned Titus down.
  • In one of the side stories of the Shared Universe that is the 1632 series, Franz, a downtimer (from the 17th century), tries to refuse a confession of love from Marla, an uptimer (from the future), even though he loves her back, on the grounds that his left hand is crippled. It's a minor injury by uptime sensibilities, but a major deal breaker by 17th century standards - especially for a former musician.
    Franz: [thrusting his crippled hand at her face] Because of this! Because I am crippled! I cannot hope for you or anyone to marry me. Your family would not allow it. I cannot support you. I cannot provide for a family, when all I can do is translate for one person here today, another person there on Thursday, or write two letters for someone next Monday. I cannot give you what you deserve, a husband sound in mind and body. I cannot protect you from the ridicule that people will heap on you for marrying a cripple! I love you more than my life, Marla, and because of that I cannot do this!
  • I loved you, one of Alexander Pushkin's most famous love poems, ends in this note. The narrator bows out not because of a specific romantic rival, but out of the realisation that his love is unrequited and will remain so:
    I loved you so sincerely and tender/God bless you with such love of someone else.
  • Slote in The Winds of War. Later he ends up dying bravely and conveniently in battle. Of course he does.
  • Viciously subverted with Petyr Baelish in A Song of Ice and Fire. While he didn't plan on his beloved, Cat, getting killed, then resurrected as a merciless, grief-stricken zombie hell-bent on revenge, he didn't seem to much care about her feelings over the fate of her husband. While he'd prefer her to be happy, he mostly just wants her.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Nicci decides on this, both because her love was already fully in love with someone else before she met him, and because of her shame over formerly being a villain. This becomes a source of particular anguish for her in the last three books, as several of the other characters begin shipping them and encouraging her to be with him, leading her to repeatedly tell them that she is the Romantic Runner-Up Atoner, not the pure-hearted love interest.
    Nicci: It is because I love him that I could never betray his heart.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: Basil to Dorian.
  • In the short story "Antinomy" by Spider Robinson, Tom Higgins has spent decades trying to revive his lover Virginia Harding after she fell into a coma. When Virginia does eventually wake up, she initially doesn't remember him. Even worse, she develops an interest in his friend and younger co-worker Bill Mc Laughin — an interest that is reciprocated. Tom eventually has an epiphany after he is unable to tell a good joke — one of the things Virginia always loved about him was his sense of humor. His monomaniacal obsession with her over the years has made him someone far less than the man she once loved. When Virginia starts to recover her memories, Tom pretends not to know her so she can start a relationship with Bill, who is everything Tom was and more.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Hot Water, when Packy recovers from Oblivious to Love, he realizes it is his duty to help the woman he loves and her fiancé.
    • Wodehouse used this trope quite a bit. In Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie and Pauline are being forced into marriage; Bertie appeals to her love interest Chuffy to help him, but Chuffy refuses, since circumstances have convinced him that Pauline loves Bertie instead. He even gives Bertie a speech about doing the right thing and not breaking Pauline's heart.
    • Other times women think Bertie is doing this for them, when the truth is that the idea of marrying them horrifies him. He goes to great lengths to get them back together with their other love interests, something they see as evidence of his pure and self-sacrificing nature rather than him desperately trying to get out of their engagement. Not that he isn't also pleased to ensure the happiness of people who inexplicably want to marry people like Madeline Basset.
  • In Catching Fire, Peeta is afraid that Katniss will sacrifice her life to save his; he shows her a picture of her family and Gale, telling her that she has something to live for. The implication is that he assumes she'll eventually marry Gale if she survives. A particularly tear-jerking example of this trope as Peeta isn't just planning on giving up his feelings for Katniss, he's planning on dying so she can be with Gale.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • In The Sign of Four, Watson, ever the Nice Guy, works hard to help Mary Morstan gain the fortune that is rightfully hers, even though he knows that having so much money will put her even more out of his league and prevent him from telling her how he really feels.
    • In the backstory to "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange", Captain Croker fell in love with Mary Fraser but "It was all love on my side, and all good comradeship and friendship on hers," and he's pleased that she made a good match to a nobleman. It's not until he learns her husband is a violent alcoholic that he gets involved.
  • Ayn Rand's first ever short story is about a woman who, realizing that her husband is in love with another woman, fakes an affair so that he will divorce her and marry his true beloved. (This looks very much like Values Dissonance compared to her later belief that self-sacrifice was the root of all evil, and her literary executor went to great lengths to try and demonstrate that the wife was actually pursuing her own self-interest.)
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Brave to be a King", Manse, having lost in the Love Triangle, wrestles down the temptation to obey the Time Patrol rules in the easiest way, which would leave his rival stuck in the past.
  • In Edith Wharton's novelette "Bunner Sisters," about two unmarried sisters in 1800s New York City, the eldest sister Ann Eliza rejects a proposal of marriage from Mr. Ramy, a man who had been visiting the sisters regularly for a time, but who she (and everyone else, including many readers) thought was interested in her younger sister Evelina. Ann Eliza's sacrifice was more on her sister's behalf than Mr. Ramy's, however: Ann Eliza felt that Evelina deserved what Ann Eliza thought would turn out to be happiness more than Ann Eliza did.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: Happens with a minor character. When Jack works in Toledo, his employer's daughter Aisa falls in love with him, and her father also wants to marry her to Jack. After he leaves and Aliena arrives, Aisa is the only one who is nice with her and tells her to go after him because she realizes that Aliena loves him.
  • In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millenia, Oenoe recounts how when she was unable to move her beloved to come with her, she consented to let her beloved biochemically induce Love at First Sight in her, at the first person she saw, because her beloved wanted to make her happy that way.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, he discusses how this trope is not found in either erotic love or affection, both of which are jealous. Only agape can induce either type of love to do it.
  • Near the end of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, this is done by both halves of the Official Couple, due to a misunderstanding: Angel, thinking Michael would be happier if he could take a wife who is able to give him children, runs away, unable to bring herself to even say goodbye; Michael, thinking all his attempts to win Angel's heart have failed, decides not to go after her and resigns himself to lifelong bachelorhood. Luckily, their sister-in-law realizes how catastrophically mistaken they are and concocts a plan to get them back together for good.
  • In The Host, Wanderer gives up on retaining Melanie as a host for Melanie's sake, effectively trying to commit suicide because she doesn't even want to take over another host (she now sees it as cruel and unfair to the host)... but also largely to give Melanie back to Jared and vice versa, making it a sort of double "I Want My Beloved to Be Happy".
  • In The Tamuli, Kalten manages to convince himself that Alean, the woman with whom he's fallen in love, loves his fellow knight Berit instead. Sparhawk has to force Kalten to promise not to try and get himself killed in battle to resolve the issue. (Sparhawk then tells Alean what was going on, and she tells Kalten off for being an idiot. It's implied that Kalten and Alean will marry as soon as they get back to Elenia.)
  • Meravyn in The Hour Before Morning not only gives up her husband out of love for him, but also commits murder and is condemned to death so that he can escape persecution.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Thrushpelt is in love with Bluestar (Bluefur back then), but she doesn't like him back in that way. When he finds out that Bluestar was pregnant with Oakheart's kits, what does he do? He offers to pretend to be the kits' father, and he shows great love for them even if he's not their real father.
    • Spottedleaf towards Firestar. She sees that Sandstorm is his mate...and it doesn't bother her at all. In fact, she admitted that the relationship between her and Firestar wouldn't have worked out since she was a medicine cat (and medicine cats can't have kits). In fact, when Mapleshade almost kills Sandstorm because she "stole" Firestar from Spottedleaf, the latter of them says that there was nothing left to steal and that Sandstorm made him happy. She ends up getting killed for this. Word of God says that Spottedleaf died again so that Firestar wouldn't have to choose between her and Sandstorm when he died.
    • Feathertail with Crowfeather. While Crowfeather fell in love again with Leafpool after her death, Feathertail supported their relationship because she didn't want Crowfeather unhappy. This stretched out further when Crowfeather had kits with Leafpool and Feathertail cared about them as if they were her own.
    • Feathertail's mother Silverstream was also like this towards Graystripe after he got another mate and kits. When Millie and Briarkit were deathly sick, Silverstream in Star Clan viciously protested this, saying that Graystripe couldn't bear any more heartbreak.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, Elissa is willing to sacrifice herself in marriage to Sir Neville to protect Mr. Collingwood. Mr. Collingwood tries to argue her out of it — she reads too many Gothics, though.
  • Dave the Dude in Damon Runyon's "Romance in the Roaring Forties" may be the sort of guy who will get sored up at a man for taking a second peek at his doll Miss Billy Perry, but when she says she loves Waldo Winchester, he plans them an elaborate surprise wedding. However, it turns out that Waldo Winchester is already married, and his wife crashes the party, so Dave the Dude gets Miss Billy Perry in the end, but it is the thought that counts, after all.
  • Ladylord features a non-final, sexual (rather than emotional) version. In the culture in question, it seems to be accepted practice for a woman who would like to sleep with a man but is currently unable to do so (such as because she's already married) to arrange a courtesan for the man instead. The protagonist does this for her own husband, since she feels she must keep herself virginal, but is more angsty about the mental image of it than she had expected to be. It turns out, however, that her husband didn't ever enjoy the courtesan's intended service, and they get together themselves in the end.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium, there is the tale of Finwe, Miriel and Indis. Miriel dies in childbirth, and refuses to reincarnate, which leads to Finwe marrying Indis. Because Elves marry for life, this means Miriel can never reincarnate, since it would mean Finwe would have two living wives. Ages later Finwe is killed, and meeting Miriel again tells her all that occurred while she was dead. She then regrets her refusal, and wishes to be reincarnated, and Finwe chooses to stay dead forever so she can do so.
  • In The Clockwork Prince, Will pulls this for both Tessa and Jem when they announce their engagement.
  • Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty & the Beast retelling The Fire Rose features a double-barreled example in the same chapter when Jason Cameron and Rosalind Hawkins both realize that they have fallen for each other, decide that the other at best regards them as a respected friend, conclude that once Jason is restored to humanity they will be a millstone interfering with the lives that the other has earned and honestly enjoys (Railroad Tycoon and Scholar, respectively), and thus resolve to put on a brave face when they go their separate ways.
  • The narrator of If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky realizes that, if her fiancé were a dinosaur, he would want to marry another dinosaur. And she would be sad about that, but also happy for him.
  • In Alien in a Small Town, Paul isn't remotely human, and knows that as much as he cares for Indira, he isn't sure it can be called "love" in the human sense, so he steps aside when she wants to marry Tendai. He's tormented by jealousy for years afterward.
  • Les Misérables:
    • The book has Eponine, who almost invokes the trope verbatim because she finds Marius sulking alone, and responds gleefully when she can provide him with the whereabouts of Cosette. She then subverts it by expressing, quite sadly, that he is so happy because she told him. Later on, she subverts it even more when she lures Marius away to the barricade.
    • Jean Valjean goes to painful lengths to secure Cosette her happiness as well, though this is a non-romantic example; Cosette is his adopted daughter.
  • Happens in Almost Like Being In Love Travis, though penniless, travels across the country to find his first love, Craig, only to find Craig apparently Happily Married to another man (or close to it). When Craig's relationship seems to fall apart, Travis does everything in his power to save it, so that Craig could be happy.
  • Early in Frankenstein, one of Walton's letters to his sister recounts how his ship's master had been a wealthy man engaged to wed a young Russian woman. When she tearfully begged he not marry her, insisting she loved a poor man whom her father had forbidden her to see, the ship-master not only released her from their Arranged Marriage, but he gave the farm he'd intended for their new home to the man she did love, along with enough money to satisfy her father's standards.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Words of Radiance: "Beloved" is pushing it, but once Kaladin develops feelings for Shallan, he concludes that she would be much happier with Adolin than with him.
    • Oathbringer: Similar to Words of Radiance, except this time it's Adolin trying to give up Shallan to Kaladin. Fortunately for him, Shallan isn't a fan of this trope. She lambasts him for attempting to make her choice for her, then makes out with him.
  • The Sharing Knife: Passage: Fawn's younger brother, Whit, has a massive crush on their boat's captain, Berry. When Fawn informs him that she's on the lookout for word of her lost betrothed (along with her father and older brother), Whit resolves to be there for her, as a crewman or a shoulder to cry on.
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