Halloween for the bibliophile who likes explaining things

Halloween is in two weeks, which means that it’s time to think about which literary character you can be that your costume party friends might not recognize. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Miss Havisham from Great Expectations
    She received word that her groom was abandoning her, while she was still getting dressed for her wedding. She never changed her clothes. For this costume, wear a wedding dress with exactly one sock, and carry around a moldy wedding cake.*
    *Note: Miss Havisham was mentioned in a scene of PS I Love You, so that might not be obscure enough. Plus, she is from a famous book. I include her because I personally don’t know that many people who read Dickens after high school.
  2. Lizzie Bennet as William Darcy from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
    I wore this to a costume party in France. Unfortunately, I think I offended a number of people who thought I was making fun of their culture and trying to be a “stereotypical French man,” when I was really just trying to dress like an American hipster in a webseries. It turns out that American hipsters really just want to be French people… For this costume, wear a plaid shirt, a bowtie, and a newsie hat. Smiles are not allowed, because they “contort the face.”
  3. Princess Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
    This 1990s series that began with Dealing with Dragons was one of my favorites growing up. Cimorene gets tired of all the girly things she’s supposed to do as a princess, so she runs away and talks a dragon into letting her live with her. In between telling knights and princes that she doesn’t want to be rescued, she keeps house for her dragon friend and fights off evil wizards with soapy water and lemon. To dress like Princess Cimorene, you’ll need a dragon and a bucket of soapy water with lemon.
  4. Père Mabeuf from Les Misérables
    You won’t remember him Mabeuf from the movie or musical. This was an old man who helped Marius learn more about his late father and sold all his books so he could buy food. When the books and the money were gone, he went to the barricades and died raising the flag of the rebellion. This was one of the saddest deaths for me to read in Les Mis, because this was a man who had nothing to lose once he had sold his books. The essentials of this costume are a red flag and a gorgeous old book. Maybe an old man beard, too, since you’re dressing as an 80 year old man.
  5. Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Oscar Wilde created this character at the end of the 19th century. Dorian was a gorgeous man who was so narcissistic that he literally sold his soul to the devil in order to stay young and handsome forever. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and murder were his “thing,” and his crimes were revealed on the face of his portrait. It’s a story about the effects that sin and hedonism have on one’s physical body. To dress as Dorian, make yourself look really attractive, and carry around a picture of yourself looking as horrible as possible, perhaps with a duckface bathroom mirror selfie. For historical accuracy, wear a suit and a cravat.
  6. Cyrano de Bergerac from, well, Cyrano de Bergerac
    Wikipedia says that there have been a ton of adaptations of this play, but the only one that I remember is the 1987 Roxanne movie with Steve Martin. Cyrano is an extremely eloquent swordsman with a humongous nose. There’s a love triangle, and he ends up helping another man woo the girl he himself loves. She falls in love with his letters, and there’s a bittersweet ending. To become Cyrano, you’ll need a really big fake nose and a sword. Speak in poems and couplets only. Feel free to challenge others to duel for the honor of your nose.

Do you have literary characters that you enjoy imitating for holidays or every day? Give me your thoughts; I’d love to hear what you do!


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