“Every world in fiction is a mentality – a way of understanding, a means of making judgements, a catalogue of right and wrong. To build a world, we must build our characters.” —Neil MacDonald
I read this on author Neil MacDonald’s blog the other day and was struck by it. Between the two of us, we wondered what would happen if you put a literary character in another book’s setting. How would the setting itself be changed?
What if, for example, someone other than Rapunzel was trapped in that tower?
Here’s how I think the story and setting would change for five characters:
1) Pre-adventure Bilbo Baggins: He would be perfectly happy in what would amount to an aboveground hobbit hole. He probably wouldn’t even mention that he couldn’t leave the tower because he had no desire to, leading the reader to view the tower as a cozy and safe place.
2) Monster from Frankenstein (right when he comes to life): The tower would literally be his, and hence the reader’s, whole world. He would look at the contents of the room as the sum of everything in the universe. Perhaps the window would be like looking into an alternate dimension.
3) Anna Karenina: It would be a cage. Without communication with the outside world, she would probably go insane pretty quickly. I can imagine her personifying a doll or other object in the room, giving it all of her love and attention as though it were her own child.
4) Winston from 1984: It would be a safe space to him since it has no cameras. Yet he would always be paranoid that a camera was hidden somewhere and that any day they would be coming for him. So, paradoxically, it would be both a safe haven and a death trap.
5) Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice: Like Anna Karenina, she would be quite put off by the lack of communication with other people. Who would she have to gossip about? Who would she be without her daughters to obsess over? However, I think she would quickly make the best of it and be happy, just like she quickly made the best of it and was happy when her daughters married. “Oh, that Wickham! What a horrible man for what he did to Lydia! Oh…you say Lydia married him? Well, how fantastic!!”
Do you agree? What else do you think might happen? Feel free to share in the comments below!
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy What If Werewolves Were In Jane Eyre? and How to Actually Enjoy Classical Music (For Book Lovers).