I’ve probably learned more about life from reading fiction than non-fiction. When was gun powder invented? I have no idea. But I do know that little boys are capable of as much violence as grown men. Despite the abundant wisdom I’ve learned from the classics, sometimes authors give pretty deplorable advice that I’m proud to say I did not follow (mainly because I didn’t get that far in the book). Be wary, just because a book is 300 pages and published in 1860 by a knighted author does not mean make it automatically wise.
Here are 9 pieces of bad advice from the classics you love:
1. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”
Oh, Piggy. You poor, ignorant character utilized to highlight the cruelty of man to another human being no matter what stage of life he or she is in. Next time, think about what an adult would do and do the opposite of that.
2. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
“Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?”
Frankenstein’s Monster, 2015 is the year of self love. Here, let me get you a self love care package. It includes:
-A mixtape of many “love yourself” songs. The opening title is Kendrick’s “I Love Myself”
-Important tumblrs to follow that deconstruct our perception of the perfect body image
-A Pinterest board titled “Self Love <3” with lots of inspirational quotes, healthy daily habits to take care of yourself.
3. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”
Um, pizza? Donuts? Gummy bears? I admit I haven’t seen a How Things Work documentary about their production but I see no such tragedy in their creation. They are only made of exquisite, tragedy-less matter.
4. “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo
“Life’s great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.”
Grim. On the surface this sounds like great, sound wisdom. But let us dissect:
-Life’s great happiness is not to actually be loved, but to be persuaded that we are being loved?
-And if we truly are loved but not convinced by it, then we cannot attain life’s great happiness?
Well, I suppose the quote does come from a book called “The Miserable Ones.” Even the happy quotes are miserable.
5. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
“See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security.”
I was with you until you said “no guarantees.” At the very least I would like for my luggage to arrive at my final destination as promised as when I booked my $800 plane ticket to Madrid. Thank you.
6. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
Yeah, I guess girls can be fools but they can also be doctors, teachers, astronauts, mothers, pastry chefs, activists.
7. “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel
“Then she cried without tears, which is said to hurt even more like dry labor.”
Now, I’ve never cried without tears nor had a “dry labor” (not even quite sure what that is). But it seems like a dry labor is definitely one without epidural and that has to be more painful than crying, right?? Back me up on this, Mamas.
8. “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
“Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.”
Nope. I would rather die in my sleep of natural causes when I’m 99 years old than be devoured by hyenas on my wedding day.
9. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
Oh man, is this the 1930’s folksy equivalent of the colorblind “I don’t see race” statement?
Jasmine is a recent graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a BA in English and a minor in psychology. There, she was highly involved with the Muslim Student Union, taught a course titled "American Dystopia," and served as a social justice mentor for the Muslim Gamechangers Network in California. She likes to read, write, and become way too emotionally invested in fictional characters' lives.