The Dark Side of Unconditional Love

Bill-sikes

It is said that unconditional love is the kind of love we should aspire to; it’s the state of loving in which you love someone, regardless of whether they love you in return, or even treat you well. It is to achieve a state of selflessness as a result of your feelings.

It has occurred to me that this is not always a good thing. A good friend of mine once told me about one of the more frightening episodes he was involved in while working as a uniformed policeman.

One night, a woman ran into the watch-house and hurdled the counter. She huddled into a corner, begging the officers on duty to protect her. Before anyone could say anything, her husband came into reception and demanded the police turn her over.

“Don’t let him get me,” she said. “He’s going to kill me.”

The police refused to surrender her and the man, an enormous figure, raged and screamed and demanded she come home with him. If you ask me, anyone that goes into a police station, screaming and yelling and issuing threats fits the definition of dangerous. Eventually he was convinced that he should leave and the woman went to a refuge.

Some months later, she was back living with the man.

One of the most remarkable features of Charles Dickens’ writing is how often the macro of his books may be unsatisfying, but some of the subplots yield the greatest returns. Oliver Twist is quite saccharine in the way it charts the story of Oliver, but the subplot involving Bill Sikes and his young girlfriend Nancy generates a magnetic power.

Bill is a loathsome, violent drunk and Nancy has an uncanny ability to see through the tangle of his character to find the humanity at the centre. She knows she is the only one who can do it and on that basis, she is devoted to him; Bill ‘needs’ to be loved and if she doesn’t do it, it is possible that no one will. Her devotion is so great that, towards the climax of the novel, Bill arrives to kill her, having been deceived into believing she has informed on him. Nancy senses his intentions, but she doesn’t flee; she knows that no matter what, Sikes needs her.

The strange face of love, indeed.

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One Response to “The Dark Side of Unconditional Love”

  1. It may not always be a good thing but most of the time it is. Similar to how im going to be your old friend and you have no say in the matter . haha

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