MARIA: And the little ones just want to be loved. Oh please, Captain, love them, love them all.
When Maria first arrives in the von Trapp household, she finds that the captain keeps the children at arm's length. Maria pleads with him to let them in. You've got to feel for the poor kids. They've lost their mother and now they have a father who calls them with a ship's whistle.
BARONESS: There's nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him.
MARIA: In love with him?
BARONESS: Of course. What makes it so nice is . . . he thinks he's in love with you.
At the party the captain throws to introduce the baroness to his friends, the baroness realizes her boyfriend has feelings for Maria. Strategic lady that she is, she decides to drive Maria away by telling her about the captain's feelings—guessing (correctly) that the very pious Maria would be mortified. She's way more experienced in the arts of romance than Maria, who's probably never given it a thought before now.
REVEREND MOTHER: Are you in love with him?
MARIA: I don't know! I don't know. […] There were times we looked at each other, I could hardly breathe.
When Maria goes back to the abbey to escape the romantic sitch with the captain, the Reverend Mother doesn't take long to press her on what happened with the von Trapps. She's wise and perceptive, and guesses what the problem is right away. She says it in a way that's totally non-judgmental. As a nun, she's taken a vow of celibacy but she knows that life in the abbey's not for everyone. Maria's so inexperienced that she knows she has strange feelings for the captain but can't identify them as love.
MARIA: To have asked for his love would have been wrong. I couldn't stay, I just couldn't.
Maria feels like loving the captain was wrong, since she had pledged herself to God and her job was just to take care of the children. She's still a postulant nun, and she thinks she's committed a huge sin by abandoning her mission.
REVEREND MOTHER: Maria, the love of a man and a woman is holy, too. You have a great capacity to love. What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love.
The Reverend Mother has an expansive view of love—love is love is love. She recognizes a loving heart when she sees one and knows that Maria needs to find the right place to express all that love.
CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Well, you can't marry someone when you're in love with someone else, can you?
In the film's most romantic scene, Maria and the captain finally admit their feelings to each other. Maria's totally flustered at first, but in the song "Something Good," she says that this must be her good karma for having done something good in her life. She's amazed that he loves her.
This song wasn't in the original Broadway production. Rodgers wrote the music <em>and</em> lyrics for it since Hammerstein had died. In our humble opinion, you can tell. Sample lyric: "Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could." Huh? Shmoop is a sucker for the song it replaced: "An Ordinary Couple."
LIESL: You love Father very much. I can tell you do.
MARIA: Very much.
Liesl, being more than a little interested in boys, is very curious to get love advice from her new stepmother. It seems to Shmoop that Maria's matured a lot since she left on her wedding trip. She suddenly seems more serious and poised. Does being a married woman do that to you? Does true love calm you down and make you grow up?
LIESL: Mother, what do you do when you think you love someone? I mean, when you stop loving someone. Or he stops loving you?
MARIA: Well, you cry a little, and then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.
Liesl's just realized that her romance with Rolfe is going nowhere, since he's dumped her for the Nazi Party. Luckily, Maria's there to offer some much-needed perspective. But again, where did she suddenly get all this wisdom about relationships? A couple of months before, she was studying to become a nun, and we doubt that teenaged romantic drama was on the syllabus.