Holiday Gift Ideas for Literary Characters

What do most literary characters have in common? They’re terrible. Sure, there are a few Atticuses and Celies in the bunch, but for the most part, the figures of classic literature don’t deserve much more for the holidays than a big ol’ pile of coal.

But we’ve made our list—and checked it twice—and came up with a few fitting holiday gifts for some of literature’s more controversial characters. In addition to the coal, of course.

Holiday Gift Ideas for
Literary Characters

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet seems to have a lot of time on her hands, and she tends to use it for things like meddling, gossiping, and…more meddling. So we’re gonna wrap up a giant book of Sudoku puzzles to help keep her busy. And hey, works the brain muscles, too.

Prince Hamlet

For Hamlet, we’re going big: a life coach. This guy went through a lot and, uh, it kinda messed him up. He became a little indecisive—to put it lightly—and we figured he could really use some guidance to help get his life back in order. (And yeah, we might be a little late with this one…)

Huck and Jim

We’re all about efficiency here at Shmoop, so we’re gonna give Huck and Jim a nice new motorboat. They can still keep the raft for bonding time and other various shenanigans, but this’ll help ’em get where they’re going a little more quickly.

Janie and Pheoby

We’re going homemade on this one. Janie and Pheoby must really like each other, since they spend the majority of Their Eyes Were Watching God sitting on a porch exchanging stories. So we’re gonna give them friendship bracelets to symbolize their bond—and because we like to show off our craftiness.

Vardaman Bundren

After we read about this kid thinking his mother was a fish, we figured he could use some Dr. Seuss. Maybe the illustrations will help clarify things a bit…

Macbeth

For Macbeth, in addition to a cleaning service (Lady Macbeth seems to have had some trouble with that one stain), we’ll be gifting a copy of Oedipus the King. You know, just to remind him how the whole prophecy thing works.

Jay Gatsby

We’re pretty close with The (Late) Great Gatsby, so he’s getting a whole haul. First, a diary. Dude had a lot of thoughts and seemed to bottle them up into symbolic ponderings of the past, so it’s probably good for him to put pen to paper. We’ll also spring for a gift card to Amazon to help Gatsby keep up the façade of reading that only an owl-eyed man could see through. And finally, we’ll go for a collection of bow ties—because looking sharp is what the Eggs are all about.

Head over to our Learning Guides for more details about every canonical literary character under the sun, or check out our course list to dig even deeper into these texts.

6 Quotes That Give the Holidays Some Spunk

Hey, Shmoopers,

‘Tis the season to get Christmas songs stuck in your head. To diffuse the earworms, we’ve lined up a few not-on-the-radio-24/7 quotes for you. These lines put the holly (and jolly) in Hollywood. They may not seem super festive, but they definitely add some pizzazz to the usual line-up.

1. “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

It definitely doesn’t scream Christmas, but this quote is straight from everyone’s favorite goofball Christmas film, A Christmas Story. Why do we remember it so much? Because it’s said over and over (and over) again. So…maybe it is an earworm. Sorry.

2. “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

We bet you knew this line before you even knew that black-and-white movies were a thing. But it comes from It’s a Wonderful Life, a 1946 flick that’s still playing on loop on TBS over the holidays.

3. “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”

This quote is one of our personal faves. And no, it has nothing to do with the holidays, but Home Alone is a classic holiday movie, so we’re counting it. Here’s hoping your family doesn’t leave you in the attic this Christmas.

4. “You go, Glen Coco!”

Mean Girls may not be a Christmas movie, per se, but Damian is very much dressed as Santa when he utters this classic and quotable line.

5. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne.”

This one‘s not from a specific movie. It’s from every movie that has a New Year’s Eve scene. And, uh, no one knows what it means.

6. “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Speaking of people who don’t know what auld lang syne means, Harry Burns semi-romantically blurts out this gem when he chases Sally to a New Year’s Eve party at the end of When Harry Met Sally. Oh…decades-old spoiler alert.

Good luck getting those out of your head. (Hey, at least it’s not “Santa Baby” for the thousandth time.)

Let it snow,


Quotes of the Week

“Bah! Humbug!”

~ A Christmas Carol 

Subscribe to Shmoop for more holiday delights. And a little grinchiness.

5 Fun Facts to Break out at Holiday Parties

It’s officially December, which means holiday party season is about to begin. Whether you’re noshing on latkes at a school shindig or avoiding the mistletoe at a family gathering, you’re gonna need some conversation starters.

Our suggestion? Use our Online Courses as inspiration. They have more info than you can stuff in a stocking, and with a Shmoop subscription, you’ll get access to all of ’em. No matter who you’re chatting with, you’ll have some fun facts to throw their way.

5 Fun Facts to Break out at Holiday Parties 

1. The internet exists thanks in part to the Cold War.

Your 12-year-old cousin probably thinks she knows everything about the interwebs. But you can teach her a thing or two with our History of the Internet course, which will give you all the deets on how Sputnik scared people into wanting a better way to communicate. Thanks, dog-driven satellites.

2. There’s such a thing as negative freedom.

When your conspiracy theorist uncle starts yammering on about evil government schemes, hit him with this one. Our Social Contract Theory course will back you up—and will probably pique Uncle Al’s interest, too.

3. Dr. Seuss was actually writing about communism.

Looking for some English teacher small talk during your class holiday party? We bet he didn’t know Thing 1 and Thing 2 were red menaces in disguise. Or not so disguise—they’re all decked out in red, after all. Get more info (and plenty of rhymes) in our course called The World According to Dr. Seuss.

4. Auteur isn’t just a fancy way to say author.

Well, it kind of is. But our Film Studies course will give you the low-down on how authorship isn’t only for writers. Save this one for your dad’s pretentious friend who you totally saw double dipping in the chocolate fondue.

5. Comic books require major brain power to understand.

Trying to get your little cousin to calm the stink down? Teach him about closure: the concept that describes what’s happening when you fill in the blanks between the panels in comic strips. Want the heavier explanation? Head on over to our course on How to Read Comics.

6 Ways to Make the Best of a Snow Day

There’s nothing better than waking up and hearing those three magic words: School. Is. Closed.

But by lunchtime, you’re running out of things to do. You’ve already built every kind of snowman, snowwoman, and snowanimal you can think of. Your arm is tired from all the neighborhood snowball fights, and your tongue hurts from sticking it to a light pole—er, from all that hot chocolate. So…now what?

Curl up under your warmest blanket and head over to Shmoop for hours of fun (and—dare we say it—even a little productivity). Here are some of our favorite suggestions:

1. Spruce up your resume.

Might sound daunting, but with Shmoop’s Resume Builder, it’ll be way less painful than getting pelted with ice balls. Pinky swear.

2. Find the college of your dreams.

Use our College Planning Tool to find the college that’s right for you—and your bank account.

3. Drive your parents crazy by speaking in Shakespearean for the rest of the day.

Our Shakespeare Translator hath thee coverèd.

4. Learn everything there is to know about…everything.

Browse thousands of flashcards, and brush up on everything from astronomy to metonymy.

5. Finally answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Take our Careers Test to explore the possibilities. Unless, of course, you’re still set on becoming a superhero. In which case, get back to world-saving.

6. Rewatch all of Breaking Bad.

Or just take our free course on Breaking Bad as Literature. Just as good; less blood.

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay Shmoopy.


Quote of the Week

“In winter, we must protect one another,
keep each other warm,
share our strengths.”
A Game of Thrones

Keep Shmooping to avoid the white walkers: winter is coming.

8 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based on Books

Hey, Shmoopers,

Here are eight movies you didn’t know were based on the good ol’ fashioned technology we like to call print media.

1. The Bourne Identity

Car chases tend to work better on screen, don’t you think? Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name was action-packed and dialogue-light, which made for an immediate on-screen classic. Matt Damon’s abs didn’t hurt, either.

2. Fight Club

The first rule of Shmoop is: always read the book first. The second rule of Shmoop is: always read the book first. (Of course, when David Fincher is involved, you have to watch the movie, too.)

3. Die Hard

Can you even imagine Die Hard without Bruce Willis? Roderick Thorp could, which is how he ended up writing Nothing Lasts Forever. We wonder if he pictured Gruber‘s accent being so bad.

4. The Shawshank Redemption

Usually, Stephen King’s dark tunnels end in scary clowns and dead bodies. But in his short story “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” that tunnel ends in something completely different: hope. And hope is what makes a TBS syndicated classic.

5. The English Patient

The movie is known for being oh-so-long, but the book flies by. We’re just impressed that Ralph Fiennes remembered 2 hours and 42 minutes worth of lines.

6. Gone With the Wind

If you haven’t read the book yet, there’s still time. After all, tomorrow is another day.

7. The Princess Bride

We just passed the 30th anniversary of this classic movie. But the book it’s based on has 14 years on that. Inconceivable.

8. The Godfather

People go to the mattresses over which movie is better: Part I or Part II. Either way, we say leave Part III, take the cannoli. The original movie and its sequels took this saga far beyond the original Mario Puzo book, which re-envisioned what it meant to be a gangster in popular media. If you’ve seen a movie since 1972, you can thank The Godfather.

Now go read a book and watch a movie. Just not at the same time.


Quote of the Week

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

~ The Godfather

Our unrefusable offer: guides to thousands of classic books and their film adaptations.

20 Examples of Awesome Personal Statements

Hi, Shmoopers,

College application season is officially in full swing. And as tedious as it is to fill out those zillions of fields on the apps, we all know the most stressful part is the personal statement.

So, allow us to inspire you with 20 examples of awesome personal statements. We’ve got something for everyone, no matter who you are. Whether you…

…we’ve got you covered.

Take a look at our examples (including detailed notes on why these examples are so awesome), and then head over to our College Application Essay Lab for a step-by-step guide to getting your essay where it needs to be.

Make ’em laugh. Make ’em cry. Just make ’em do something. Those admissions officers want to feel something…other than an eye roll.


Quote of the Week

“Toga! Toga!”

~ Animal House

We don’t recommend quoting Animal House in your personal statement. Just saying.

6 Dinners We’re Sure Were More Uncomfortable Than Your Family’s Thanksgiving Will Be

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’re most grateful for. It’s also a time to reflect on how incredibly awkward family dinners can be. But remember: you’re not alone. To help you get through whatever shenanigans are planned for you this year, we’ve got a list of dinners that were definitely more uncomfortable than your family’s Thanksgiving will be.

 

1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Toward the beginning of Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones & co. find themselves at a classy nightclub dinner—fully equipped with a lounge singer. But when he’s introduced to said singer, Dr. Jones grabs her and pushes a dinner fork into her side. Indy, did you learn nothing in school? That’s the cold cuts fork. The stabbing-ladies fork is the second from the left

2. Beowulf

Heorot, King Hrothgar’s mead-hall in Beowulf, is home to a lot of not-so-fun stuff. Sure, everything starts out fine, but soon enough, Grendel starts going on the offensive. Let’s just say, things get brutal.

3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Apparently Spielberg loves him some awkward dinners. And while Temple of Doom has its share of the supernatural, it’s nothing compared to Close Encounters. Roy Neary’s UFO obsession makes things a wee bit awks when his kids start crying as he sculpts the mashed potatoes into his, uh, extraterrestrial vision.

4. Titus Andronicus

Okay, it’s a Shakespearean tragedy, so we expect a giant bloodbath. But did Titus really need to bake Demetrius and Chiron into a pie and serve it to Tamora for dinner? Or if he did, couldn’t he have at least…not told anyone? Ignorance is bliss, right? We’re guessing this is one dinner experience you’ll never have to live through.

5. Belshazzar’s Feast

The Hebrew Bible is filled with bad decisions. One of them? In the Book of Daniel, Belshazzar and his wives and guests drink out of sacred vessels that were stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem. Not a smart move, and a disembodied hand comes along to let him know he’s toast.

6. Back to the Future

Back to the Future gives us the peak of awkward: a mom hitting on her son. To be fair, Marty’s mom doesn’t know it’s him, but…yeah. We’re done here.

Here’s to a totally normal Thanksgiving.