Meghan W

Elizabeth Bennet and Lisbeth Salander Walk into a Room: What Happens Next?

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Currently I have not finished the book I’ve been reading for a few days. It’s terrible. The book and how long it’s taken me to read it. The book, if you must know, is Derby Day by D.J. Taylor. It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, so naturally I believed it would be an enjoyable read. It’s not. I detest reading books where every character is immensely unlikeable, and I really dislike essentially every character. I am an avid horseback rider and even compete with my university team, but seriously, this book is NOT about Derby Day. I’m halfway through and it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m pretty sure the actual event doesn’t occur until nearly the end. So, I suppose that instead of not posting for a few days (because I promise, even if I don’t like the book, I’ll do SOMETHING with it), I’ll talk about something else having to do with reading, and a topic I would love to talk about.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if a character in one book met a character from another book? Am I the only one? (please say no.)

Here’s a list of characters meeting characters from other novels that I’ve come up with:

  • Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind) and Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina)
  • Claire Abshire (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and Claire Randall Fraser (Outlander)
  • Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) and Emma Woodhouse (Emma)
  • Dexter Mayhew (One Day) and Robbie Turner (Atonement)
  • Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre) and Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)
  • Noah Calhoun (The Notebook) and Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Cecelia Tallis (Atonement) and Tess Durberville (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)

What do you think? Should I add any other characters you think would have an interesting dynamic?

I’ll explain why I chose each pairing. (some of them can only be written if I give away key aspects of the books, so just watch out when I alert you to **spoiler alerts**)

1- Elizabeth Bennet and Lisbeth Salander- First of all, P and P is my most absolute favorite novel of all time. Dragon Tattoo is not. In fact, I hated it. Strongly.  I felt like I had to go cleanse myself after reading it. I just felt dirty and gross, and I really really needed to get out of Lisbeth’s head. That girl has some serious issues going on! For those who have read it, the scene where she enacts her revenge that stemmed from that thing that happened (you all know what I’m talking about…maybe) scarred me. Ew. So, if Lizzy met Lisbeth, I think she’d dislike her. That’s not just because I dislike her. I believe that although Elizabeth certainly tried to wash away common societal norms (like marrying within one’s class), I don’t think she’d appreciate Lisbeth’s surly, depressive, and unhappy attitude. Elizabeth would probably try to encourage Lisbeth to act with a more sunny disposition and to open up more, but eventually she’d back off because she would realize it was hopeless and that it really wasn’t her place to begin with. Lisbeth, on the other hand, would be bored by Elizabeth, although she may admire Elizabeth’s tenacity and strong character.

2-Scarlett O’Hara and Anna Karenina (**spoiler alert…don’t read this if you don’t want the ending of Anna Karenina to be revealed yet)**- personally, I think this is the most dynamic duo of the bunch. For those who have read both novels, these two women are full of drama. They thrive on it. If the two of them were in a room together, the electricity between the two would be quite forceful. This is how I believe it would first play out: Scarlett would size Anna up, and vice versa. Each would think their lives are better than the other. Then, Anna meets Vronsky and begins the affair. If Scarlett knew, first she would envy Anna. One, because S would believe that A is blissfully happy, and that that happiness would last forever. S would envy A’s ability to grab and successfully obtain what she wants. Secretly, S would loathe herself for not doing with Ashleigh what A’s doing with Vronsky (although Scarlett wouldn’t yet realize it’s because her moral compass is more align than Anna’s is, and S loves Melanie too much to break up a marriage). Scarlett would begin plotting how she could do the same, and if she would be as happy as Anna. Eventually, Anna’s happiness lessens. She becomes paranoid, clingy, and desperate. Scarlett begins to feel supercilious. Then, as Anna’s downfall spirals even further and she’s shunned from society while Vronsky can still do whatever he wants, Scarlett will begin to feel that she did the right thing in not forcing herself on Ashleigh to the point where they’d commit adultery. She’ll feel especially thankful when Melanie dies, because she never desecrated her only friend. Anna’s suicide would convince S that S did the right thing, and that she is stronger, has more character, and better moral judgement than A ever had.

3- Claire Abshire and Claire Randall Fraser- For those not familiar with these people (shame on you! just teasing. But really. Life altering novels.): Claire 1 deals with a husband who time travels with hardly any warning. Claire 2 herself is a time traveler, although she can’t do it as often as Claire 1’s husband or she’d kill herself. I believe pairing a non time traveler with a time traveler who are both familiar with each side would be interesting, especially since they’re both from “modern times” (both from the 20th century, early and late), but one lives in the past. Each faces her own battles dealing with time travel. Claire 1 feels frustrated that her husband always leaves her, even at the most inopportune times, and she never knows where he is until he comes back (one of my favorite lines from the book- “I won’t ever leave you, even though you’re always leaving me“. Tear jerker). Claire 2, on the other hand, has to deal with knowing too much information. And although her husband (Jamie Fraser…yum) respects and supports her, she realizes that he can feel frustrated sometimes with his “lack” of knowledge, which makes him feel inferior (and you  really don’t want to make an 18th century male Scottish highlander feel inferior). Both Claires can bond over the fact that their lives are inexplicably different from everyone else’s. Claire 1 can take comfort in knowing that if Claire 2 can live in the past she wasn’t born into and survive, then Claire 1’s husband could be okay wherever he travels to, even if he’s alone.

4- Hermione Granger and Emma Woodhouse- I’m really quite sure everyone is familiar with Harry Potter, even if you haven’t read them. Emma is a pretty straightforward novel, so I don’t feel the need to put spoiler alert on here. I chose the two of them  because I believe they’re very similar. Emma, for example, likes to get in everybody’s business through match-making. She does a rather horrible job of it, but she won’t let anyone tell her differently. She’s a bit stubborn. If she and Hermione paired off, they’d do great together until they disagree on something, and then their stubborn attitudes would bring about their downfall unless they listen to the people around them. Can you imagine? Emma would think Mr So and So should definitely marry Miss So and So, but Hermione would then say that Mr So and So should most certainly NOT marry Miss So and So because SHE is a horrid toad (or something to that effect). Hermione and Emma would be charming together, when one looks past their stubborn personalities. Emma would most likely end up setting her up with Harry (and we all know that wouldn’t be a good idea).

5- Dexter Mayhew and Robbie Turner (**spoiler alert** for both of the endings)- I absolutely adore both of these tragic love stories. ADORE. I would go for Robbie over Dex, but they both have a certain quality to them– a bit mysterious, a bit brooding, self-confident– that I’m quite attracted to. I can’t quite figure out, though, whose story is most tragic (from birth till death). What do you think? Dexter spends most of his life aimlessly living life, not accomplishing anything and disappointing nearly everyone closest to him. He wastes too much time not realizing his perfect girl has been there the entire time, and when he finally does, she dies. Tragically. They have very few perfect years together. Perhaps they would have had more if Dex hadn’t been so oblivious and hadn’t changed so much. Robbie, though, has a hard life from the begining, although it’s not as depressingly self indulgent as Dex’s. Robbie has a generally good job working at the Tallis’s home. He pines for the daughter of the house (Cecelia) and finally has one night of passion. But is one night enough? Would it have been better if he never knew what could be and lived contentedly, or was it better that he knew even if it lasted only once, and he could never, ever, repeat it. I think it may almost have been worse for Robbie than Dex (romantically) because Robbie was ripped from his true love. He knew she was The One, but he was cruelly barred from ever seeing her. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s thrown into a war where he can never advance because he’s a convict, and where he dies mere days before being rescued. He never learned what became of Cecelia. He never knew the perfect ending Cecelia’s sister created for them through words only. Perhaps one consolation with Robbie’s luck is that soon Cecelia dies, so they meet up in the afterlife sooner than Dex and Emma can. Poor Dex has to deal with his demons for years before finally coming to terms with Emma’s death, and finally, finally dying at however old he makes it to be. So, I suppose they both face really bad luck. They also have really good chances with fate, but both have been touched by Death. But beautiful nonetheless. I think they’d hit it off if they ever met, before or after their tragedies. Their personalities would balance each other out, don’t you think?

6- Jane Eyre and Catherine Earnshaw– again, I feel like most people are familiar with their stories, so I’m not putting spoiler alert. Jane Eyre is a great deal less crazy than Catherine. Poor Catherine was driven crazy by the harsh landscape of northern England, lack of neighbors and company, and even more lack of suitable people to fall in love with. Although Jane’s life is certainly touched by sadness, she encounters shelter in Thornfield Hall, if spurned only by the crazy woman living upstairs who’s life vendetta is to kill everyone. But really, if Jane met Catherine, she’d probably face her just as she faced Bertha. Although she handle it better, by not running away. In fact, Jane might offer some solace to Catherine and help her through C’s difficult life. I’m not sure if Catherine would come out differently knowing Jane. She’d still die, I suppose. But would she die happier? More content? I don’t think so. I do, however, think Jane would come out stronger meeting Catherine– and who knows, perhaps if she met Catherine before attending Thornfield Hall, she’d face Bertha and kill her herself!

7- Noah Calhoun and Marianne Dashwood– you all better be familiar with The Notebook! I must say, I hated the written story. I absolutely adore the movie, but the book was simply awful. But the character remained the same with both book and film so I think it’s still okay to write about him. I put these two characters together because they’re both such romantic people who are very in touch with their emotions. They may not suit each other romantically, but I do think they’d admire each other. For one, Marianne appreciates a person who can express himself, who doesn’t keep things bottled up inside. She’d most likely become infatuated with him, adoring his love of Whitman and his shyness at his early stutter. A move like restoring an entire house simply for the one he loves would likely send Marianne to her knees. And while she’d eventually realize they were unsuitable, she would most likely be looking for someone to fill Noah’s heart; say, a girl named Allie, perhaps? Noah might actually think Marianne silly sometimes, but maybe only because of her young age. He, though, would appreciate Marianne’s decision to deal with thins outright and her willingness to throw everything away for one man.

8- Cecelia Tallis and Tess Durberville– (**spoiler alert for Tess**) Tess of the D’Urbervilles had me crying so much, especially the end. So did Atonement. Both of these girls face extreme loss in their lives. I think we can all agree, though, that Tess had it much, much harder. Cecelia led a charmed life, at least up until WWII, but Tess was born into a poor family in the English countryside with a drunk father who can’t make money. Tess tries so very hard to improve her life and eventually finds love, even if it doesn’t last. Both girls, however, shared some form of true happiness in their lives. And even if their romance lasted of only a night or so, they still had it. Both lives end tragically, but was it a blessing? Could they have continued to live? Cecelia faced the tragic loss of Robbie, but Tess just had so much loss and sadness bottled up in her life; would Angel had been able to truly make her happy forever? If these two women were placed in a room with each other, the sadness would be suffocating.

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