Halloween Costume Ideas from Literature and History

This Halloween, scare up some fun with these history- and lit-inspired costumes:

Ten US History-Inspired Halloween Costumesrosie

1. Put on a three-corner hat and cape, pull a cardboard boat around your waist, and pose as George Washington crossing the Delaware during the American Revolution.

2. Dress up as Benjamin Franklin with a kite and singed hair. Be careful around the French maids.

3. Pretend to hitchhike as Christopher Columbus with a sign that says “India or bust.”

4. Dress up like Abe Lincoln – with two tickets in his breast pocket.

5. Test people’s knowledge of US history trivia by putting on a turn-of-the-century suit, carrying some bags of fake money, and painting your nose purple. Yes, JP Morgan really did have a purple nose.

6. Try a scandalous costume for a trio: Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy.

7. Wear a suit and a Richard Nixon mask. Carry a hallowed-out pumpkin filled with film. You’re reenacting the “Pumpkin Papers,” in which future President Richard Nixon used to take down Soviet spy Alger Hiss in one of the Cold War’s most notorious espionage cases.

8. Dress up as Betsy Ross with a half-finished American flag. Include a rainbow flag, a pirate flag, and yellow smiley face among your book of samples.

9. Sport your finest 1920s-style outfit, a plastic Tommy gun, a cigar, and your best Al Capone accent. Rave about the merits of the 18th Amendment and Prohibition.

10. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to flex those guns. Rosie the Riveter is one of the best “girl power” costumes in history. (World War II: Home Front)

Ten Literature & Poetry-Inspired Halloween Costumes

1. Bust out the Photoshop to make an “oil painting” of yourself aged about 50 years. Frame it, put on your best Victorian-style outfit, and trick-o-treat as Dorian Gray. (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

2. Go on a hunt after your friend who is dressed as a white whale with bloodshot eyes. Chase the whale around the streets with a toy harpoon in hand. Rant and rave to strangers about catching the whale. (Moby-Dick)

3. Dress up like a grizzled old sailor, rave unintelligibly, and hang a fake albatross around your neck à la “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

4. Put on a collared shirt, a tie, a long coat, and a red hunting hat. Carry a record under your arm and collect candy as Holden Caulfield. (The Catcher in the Rye)

5. See who gets the Scout Finch reference when you walk around barefoot with a banged-up ham costume and knife slash through the back. (To Kill a Mockingbird)

6. Put on a straw hat and some ratty old clothes, pull a cardboard canoe around your waist, and try your luck as Huckleberry Finn. Don’t be afeared to use *some* Antebellum Missouri slang. (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

7. Pay your dues to George Orwell by dressing up like a pig brandishing a liquor bottle and insisting that “two legs are better than four.” (Animal Farm)

8. Put on a long, plain dress and plaster a scarlet “A” to the front. Get your friend to dress like a priest. (The Scarlet Letter)

9. Dress up like Lady Macbeth and try to scrub imagined bloodstains off your hands. Rinse, repeat. (Macbeth)

10. For a truly terrifying Halloween costume, give your kid brother face paint, some tattered rags, a conch shell, and a (fake) pig head on a stake. Don’t let him see that you’ve got glasses. (The Lord of the Flies) 

Share Your Costumes and Ideas

  • Post your ideas in the Comments, below
  • Post your photos on our Facebook Page

4 thoughts on “Halloween Costume Ideas from Literature and History

  1. This was too funny! 🙂

    I also suggest tights and Renaissance garb: Hamlet. Pace the streets emoting: “To be or not to be?” and “Methinks it is like a weasel.”

  2. divy says:

    Dress up like a sailor – wear old clothes, carry a stuffed fish and a big cut-out letter “C” – Depending on your gender, you will be either The Old Man and the “C” (Sea) or the Old Woman and the “C” (Sea)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s