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Character, Control and Confession: A Three-Part Look at the Theme of Love in The Rose of Versailles

For summaries of the basic plot of The Rose of Versailles, see Deborah Shamoon’s article “Revolutionary Romance: The Rose of Versailles and the Transformation of Shojo Manga” in Mechademia 2 (2007): 3-18 and my article “Japanese Dramas Take on Gender Norms.”

To read Part 2, click here.

To read Part 3, click here.

Part 1: “Love Hurts”

A major theme of the Oscar-Andre love story in Ikeda Riyoko’s (1972-3) ベルサイユのバラBerusaiyu no Bara (The Rose of Versailles) is the loss of control of one’s emotions. In the events leading up to the pair’s (finally) becoming lovers, there are three major points at which one of the characters completely loses control of his or her emotions, risking everything in the process. While risking it all for love (cue the ’80s and ’90s pop ballads) is certainly not an uncommon theme in romantic stories, in BeruBara, the themes manifests in such a way that the act of being completely overrun by one’s emotions is the ultimate symbol of love. However, literary symbols do not exist in a vacuum; the idea of love driving a person to lose all logic and reason ties in very strongly into to Japanese and American cultural depictions of love.  Thus, in this series of articles, I aim to explore this trope as it functions in BeruBara and in other media.

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