Shmoop’s Top 20 Thanksgiving Dinner Guests from Literature & History

Food, friends, naps, and good conversation. What could be better than that? Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks with the people we love. We at Shmoop have decided to invite our best friends to our Turkey Day feast – we’re grateful for them, after all.

Now, we just have to figure out who is going to sit next to whom:

Top Five Best Dinner Guest Pairings

These dinner guests will get along like – you know – peas and carrots, ice cream and pie, Aunt Nene’s green jello and marshmallows (how the heck does she get those marshmallows to float, anyway?)…

1. Scout Finch and Huck Finn:
Watch a childhood crush develop as Scout and Huck share exploits, plan adventures, and show each other their slingshots. When nobody’s looking, they’ll steal the silverware, find treasures in the hole of a neighbor’s tree, and meet up with Jim on the river.

2. Holden Caulfield and Hamlet:
These two sensitive, maladjusted young men should have enough in common to keep them talking the whole night. Both privileged? Check. Both lovesick? Check! Both despise liars and phonies? Check! Both going to tackle the world’s hypocrisy head-on? Checkmate!… Whenever they can get around to it, anyway.

3. Grendel and Luna Lovegood:
Letting Grendel into the room is a fast way to kill a good dinner party, so don’t seat him next to anyone faint-of-heart or vegetarian. The un-fazeable Luna Lovegood will make Grendel feel right at home by asking him all about mythical monsters and swapping tales of run-ins with humankind. And if Luna’s magic wand can’t keep Grendel in check, maybe her radish earrings will.

4. Porphyria’s Lover and Madame DeFarge:
Porphyria’s Lover is a passionate, poetic, thinky-feely kind of guy who likes long walks on the beach and staying up all night to admire the corpse of a strangled girlfriend. None of your other guests will want to get near him, so throw him in a corner and use Madame DeFarge as a buffer zone. Her attitude? Bring it!

5. Alice and The Walrus:
Who has a better resume for spending an evening with The Walrus? Alice has extensive singing-walrus experience from traveling through the Looking-Glass, and with her mind so radically opened by her adventures in Wonderland, she’ll be the only guest who has any idea what “cu-cu-cachoo” means.

Top Five Worst Dinner Guest Pairings

Only the brave host would seat these duos together. If the mashed potatoes start flying, don’t say that we didn’t warn you…

1. Edgar Allan Poe and Ulysses S. Grant:
Nothing is more embarrassing than watching friends and family getting blitzed at a dinner party. Poe liked his absinthe and Grant was a reported alcoholic, so if you want to give your other guests a fighting chance at the wine, make sure to stick these two at opposite ends of the table.

2. Jay Gatsby and The Giver:
Letting these two get on a roll is bound to make everyone depressed. Everything was better in the good old days, they’ll tell you: the men had more hopeful futures, the women were more loving – heck, even the colors were brighter!

3. J. Alfred Prufrock and Teddy Roosevelt:
Blankets don’t get much wetter than J. Alfred Prufrock, so be careful not to seat him next to a carouser like Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was so famously high-energy that when he invited a foreign ambassador to join him for a day of sports, the ambassador is said to have collapsed from exhaustion.

4. Hedda Gabler and The Misfit:
Sometimes, having too much in common can be a bad thing. Hedda Gabler is bored, manipulative housewife who breaks up relationships, destroys careers, and encourages people to commit suicide for entertainment. Similarly, The Misfit is an escaped convict who murders an entire family along the roadside because he wants to do something mean before the police catch him. The last thing these two need, aside from cutlery, is an evening picking each other’s brains.

5. Emily Dickinson and Boo Radley:
The only thing worse than a conversation gone wrong is no conversation at all. These two notorious recluses might not be the liveliest guests at the table. But, who knows, maybe they would hit it off after passing soap carvings and crumpled-up poems to each other under the table.

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