In Casablanca, the prominent themes of unhappy love and self-sacrifice set this romantic melodrama apart from most in its genre. These themes are best expressed in the interactions of the three main characters: Victor Laszlo, a heroic political leader; Ilsa Lund, an enigmatic femme fatale; and Richard (Rick) Blaine, a seemingly morally ambiguous night club owner. An unusual love triangle forms with the two men’s mutual love for the intermediary woman. Unlike the archetypal romantic triangle which includes the betrayed husband and the victorious lover, this situation results in unhappiness and loss for all involved. All three are willing to sacrifice for this love, regardless of the suffering that results from its pursuit.
Victor is portrayed as an idealistic leader, whose unwavering devotion to his political cause is only challenged by his tremendous love for his wife. He is, in every respect, a virtuous human.
" It also challenges the conventional romantic sense of love with a more powerful form. Although Ric and Ilsa"tms are somewhat tragic; it portrays the somewhat bittersweet realities of life more truthfully than any "happily ever after. In the end, Victor must live unhappily with the knowledge that Ilsa is not truly his; she remains with him because of her love for another man. Victor"tms courageous offer demonstrates the depth of his love for his wife. Her shameful decision violates her high ideals, honor, and sacred vows of marriage. Rick struggles with his feelings of love for Ilsa and his loyalty and admiration for Victor and his cause. maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. " Not only is Victor sacrificing his wife to another man, he is also giving up his only chance to escape from the almost certain death he faces in Casablanca. In fact, his only possible short-coming seems to be his lack of romantic passion or intimacy with his wife. With this sacrifice, Rick"tms love achieves a new state of purity, and this means redemption. However, he suggests, in his own self-sacrificial offer, that Rick "use the letters to take her away from Casablanca. Rick admires Victor"tms selfless devotion to Ilsa, and knows that he (Victor) is the better man.