False Love – Shiwunan, Grade 11

This literary essay is written by one of my grade 11 students. He has presented a very enlightening thesis statement, stating the dire consequences of narcissism. He has critically analyzed “The Chaser” by John Collier, extracting some of the most important messages that the author has tried to convey in his story. He has included very clear quotes from the novel and provided accurate explanations and conclusions.

False Love

When people seek love, they often fail to realize whether they are genuinely in love with their lovers or simply would like to be loved. When such a realization is not made or is overlooked, the lovers are bound to indulge in narcissism. The potential consequences of such indulgence are illustrated in the short story “The Chaser” by John Collier, where the main character, Alan, resorts to a “love potion” to make his lover besotted with himself. Even though he is warned of the dire consequences of such an obsessive “love,” he still insists on acquiring the love potion. However, Alan ignores the seller’s warnings and buys the love potion, which foreshadows the subsequent events. The story warns that when narcissistic love masquerades itself as true love, it causes lovers to act selfishly, to ignore warnings, and to have a sense of self-righteousness.

Selfish behaviour is often an indicator of narcissism, which disguises itself as true love. In the story, the old man talks about the effects that the potion will have on Diana, the girl who Alan pursues. This is also evident in what Alan says: “She will actually be jealous?’ … ‘Of me?” He only refers to himself, which means he only considers his own interests and is only interested in fulfilling his own happiness, and not that of Diana. Selfishness in relationships is an extremely obvious sign of narcissism, as the lovers do not care for the feelings or needs of the person whom they “love”; and instead only want them to satisfy their every whim. Narcissists will often go to great lengths in order to obtain what they desire, mistreating their family and lover to succeed and do not consider the needs of others to be as important as their own. In addition, Alan exhibits feelings of entitlement by going to the old man to buy a potion that would make Diana fall for him instantly, as opposed to trying to win her over with affection and care. Feeling entitled is a classic trait of narcissists. They believe that they deserve what they want as a birthright and do not need to achieve it through diligence. Ignorant of his narcissism, Alan truly believes that he is wishing the best for both him and Diane, showing that he is mistaking his narcissism for true love. Thus, acting selfishly is a sign of narcissistic love.

One who mistakes narcissistic love for true love may also ignore warnings. When Alan first approaches the old man in the story, the old man immediately introduces him to a poison, which he refers to as a “glove-cleaner” and repeatedly alludes to it each time Alan asks about the love potion. When the old man initially says, “please a customer with one article, and he will come back when he needs another. Even if it is more costly. He will save up for it, if necessary,” he warns Alan of the consequences of using the love potion and foreshadows the events that are certain to follow. Because Alan is so fixated on his goal of getting Diane to love him, he ignores the warnings of the old man and does not consider any of the potential consequences of his actions. Given his focus on his short term goal, Alan, who is repeatedly warned by the old man, fails to see the long term consequences of his actions. Narcissists are often preoccupied with fantasies about the perfect mate, and thus will ignore warnings and act rudely towards anyone who tries to disillusion them about their fantasies. Alan exhibits this trait in the story, as he fantasizes about his life with Diane. As the old man warns, Alan’s actions will result in the need for him to kill Diane. A true lover would never wish for their partner to die, but by ignoring the warnings, Alan unknowingly is taking the first steps towards killing Diane, proving that he does not truly love her but wants the feeling of being loved, which is a motive of narcissistic love.

Those who mistake narcissistic love for true love will also have a fervent sense of self-righteousness. Alan displays this by seeking the old man for his love potion: “So, … you really do sell love potions?” By looking for the love potion, Alan has a firm belief that he is entitled to Diane’s love. This is an example of self-righteousness as he believes that what he is doing is morally correct and that there cannot possibly be any consequences for his actions. Those who are self-righteous are often intolerant of others’ opinions, and Alan demonstrates this by circumventing Diane’s opinion in the matter, as it would very likely lead to a negative outcome for Alan. Self-righteousness is a common trait of narcissists as they are certain in the fact that they are always correct and refuse to admit that they are wrong. In a true relationship, the partners must hear and respect each other’s opinions and strive to reach a compromise, even if it may not be the favourite solution for each of them. By not even hearing Diane’s opinion, Alan shows that he does not truly love Diane, and is only interested in enjoying the love from Diane. Thus, having a sense of self-righteousness is a sign that one has mistaken narcissistic love for true love.

When lovers mistake narcissistic love for true love, they may act selfishly, ignore warnings, and have a sense of self-righteousness. Alan demonstrates these in “The Chaser,” which is as a cautionary tale of the consequences of mistaking narcissistic love for true love. In modern society, many people enter a relationship without thinking about whether or not their love for a person is true, selfless love. Such relationships often end in bitter disagreements and conflicts, damaging the lovers’ mental and physical health. As motives for loving someone could be very misleading, lovers constantly need to examine their love for selfishness, recklessness, as well as self-righteousness.