Pop Culture Column: If Literary Characters Went to University of Florida

By Sally Greider, English and Public Relations Sophomore

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Immersing oneself into the life and world of a favorite book character is always exciting. Seeing through the eyes of Harry Potter or imagining what it would be like to compete in the Hunger Games is fun, and often far more interesting than other responsibilities.

However, what if these literary characters saw the world through our eyes, the eyes of a student at the University of Florida? Let’s picture Hamlet strolling through Plaza of the Americas, or Dorian Gray perusing the Fine Arts Library. What would some of the world’s most famous literary character be like if they were here among us, standing in line at Starbucks and cramming for their exams? Here are a few guesses!

Hamlet, “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s most famous tragic hero has had more than a few parenting issues before arriving at UF, mostly because his Uncle really wanted him to go out of state. He’s made it here though, and is having some real trouble deciding what classes to take—to be or not to be an engineering major? He’s got a hot temper and wants to have legislative power someday, so political science is also an interesting option. He joins the speech and debate team in order to gain more persuasive power, but unfortunately nobody seems to listen to his viewpoints until the last minute. Always enthralled by supernatural activity, Hamlet wholeheartedly believes the ghost stories surrounding Beaty Towers. Hamlet’s study ethic is to cram the night before the exam until four in the morning at Library West, even though this sometimes makes him so delirious he starts having visions of his now deceased father… maybe you should look into that sometime, friend.

Sherlock Holmes,The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Everyone’s favorite consulting detective knew he would be a criminology major from day one of arriving here at UF, but as he’s already learned most of the material required, he supplements this learning track with a scattering of other subjects, ranging from entomology to chemistry to world literature. His best friend from high school, John Watson, is studying biology on the Pre-med track and doesn’t really have time to be dragged along to solve different campus mysteries by Sherlock, but always ends up helping crack the case anyway. Sherlock is a bit of a loner besides being friends with John, and would rather hole himself away in the special collection of books in Smathers Library than go to the clubs at midtown. He also plays violin in the UF orchestra. A bit of a know-it-all, he never bothers to study for his exams.

Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
All Lizzie Bennet’s mother wanted her to do was find a good husband and get married, but Elizabeth decided to move past the 1900s and come to University of Florida instead. An English and International studies double major, Lizzie is often found curled up with a book or eating Krishna Lunch at Plaza of the Americas. She’s also part of the ballroom dancing club and the improv group Theatre Strike Force because of her sharp sense of humor. Lizzie’s been to a few parties, but, as an independent and free spirit, she’s more interested in doing her own thing—and she’s found some hidden places in Gainesville to study that not many other students know about, like Volta Coffeehouse. She has a lot of younger sisters back home who want to visit, so decided to live off campus in an apartment that can handle a lot of guests. While moving in she met a graduate student named Darcy who seemed like a complete jerk. Recently, however, she’s been seeing him around campus a lot, and maybe he’s not quite as bad as she thought…though she’s not really looking for a relationship right now, could it be true love?

Jay Gatsby “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jay Gatsby is a smooth, charming out-of-stater gator, but nobody who he’s friends with knows exactly where he comes from, as the story changes every time. Despite not being in a fraternity, he throws parties at his fancy, upscale townhouse apartment that rival even the most hardcore frats, usually 1920s themed. From what acquaintances say, he seems to spend a lot of time gazing out his window at the green light on the balcony of the apartment across the road, which some less charitable souls describe as “creepy-stalker” behavior. Word is that the sorority girl who lives there, Daisy Buchanan, is dating someone, but hey, a guy can dream! Gatsby is a business and finance major, and is super-tight with all his professors, so who cares about exams, really?

Whether they are quirky or studious, party boys or loners, looking at a character in a different worldview is an entertaining way to see them in a new light, as well as to better understand their core personality traits. These are just a few literary characters seen through the lens of the University of Florida. What would your favorite book’s characters be like if they went to college?

 

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