in which I offer unsolicited advice to fictional characters

This weekend, while in blizzard-induced lockdown, I read Frankenstein, which I somehow made it out of high school without ever being assigned. Frankenstein has reminded me of something that I often forget when reading so much young adult lit: reading can be hard and slow. I can rip through most YA books really fast. I sit with Frankenstein for what feels like hours and only get through fifteen pages.

Frankenstein has been a surprising and huge hit. I have loved every word of it, even the parts where the remarkably articulate monster waxes poetic. But, as with many books, I have frequently found myself shouting at Victor Frankenstein because he is a total moron, the same way you shout at people in horror movies not to go in that closet.

It got me thinking about the other fictional characters I would like to give a good talking to. And since Valentine’s Day is coming up and everybody’s writing cards anyway, I thought I’d send a few of my own.


Dear Jay Gatsby

No. You cannot repeat the past. And you are playing jump rope with the line between romantic and restraining order. Ask yourself this question: did I buy a million dollar house to impress a girl I am now too scared to talk to? If the answer is yes (and it is), you need to stop. Maybe friend Daisy on facebook. Friending an ex is universal language for wanting to get back together. Also, you do not have to go swimming just because you haven’t used the pool all fall and you feel like you need to. DO NOT GO SWIMMING, JAY!

Love, M


Dear Elizabeth Bennet,


Love, M


Dear Mr. Rochester,

First you have a kid with a random opera singer. Then you have been stringing along Blanche Ingram to make the girl you actually like jealous, you drove your wife crazy and then locked her in an attic, and you have been mentally abusing Jane since you met her. You are basically a terrible person. And oh man, I love you for it you beautiful bastard.

Love, M


Dear Hamlet,

Just man up and kill him. It has been like three and a half hours.

Love, M


Dear Amy March,

Sweetheart, I know you are feeling left out, but burning Jo’s manuscript is not a proportional response. A little part of me dies every time I read this bit. I really cannot imagine anything worse a person could do. With like major exceptions like genocide and becoming a politician.

Love, M


Dear Holden Caufield

…oh buddy.

Love, M


Dear Victor Frankenstein

So you’ve been working for like six years to reanimate this corpse. Do not be so surprised when it actually works. You should have been prepared for this, instead of totally losing it and running away when he comes alive. Because frankly, that was a terrible response. Also, if you were so freaked out by the way he looks, maybe you shouldn’t have made him so freaky looking to begin with.

Love, M


Feel free to leave your own letters to fictional characters in comments!

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14 thoughts on “in which I offer unsolicited advice to fictional characters

  1. Benjamin Tomak says:

    1818 or 1831?

    • MackenziLee says:

      Is this a question as to what edition of Frankenstein I’m reading? Or are you asking me which of these two years was my favorite? :)

      • Benjamin Tomak says:

        it would be something if the two years i gave you to pick from just happened to coincide with two editions of shelley’s novel :) it just so happens that i have been transfixed with frankenstein this year as well; i have read both editions and find the changes interesting. one could write–and many have probably written–an entire thesis comparing and contrasting the editions. i prefer 1818 (more raw, more shocking), but must admit that the more polished 1831 edition is quite an achievement. how about you?

      • MackenziLee says:

        Haha well I knew it was originally published in 1818 but I wasn’t positive when it was rereleased. I have the 1831 edition, but I think it’d be interesting to compare them. Frankenstein is just a gorgeous and fascinating book, and it is so complex! I am so impressed by just how many themes are so deftly woven into it. I got into Frankenstein after seeing Danny Boyle’s National Theater version. It’s very different from the book, but I think it captures the spirit of the piece so beautifully. It’s worth a look on youtube – I think there’s some clips.

  2. Carson Center says:

    Ha! I LOVE these! Especially Mr. Rochester–it is kind of strange how we can love a character who, when you take a step back, is completely creepy and kind of psycho. Don’t mind if I do try one out myself…

    Dear Scarlett,

    Yes, you are petty and selfish, but also very smart. So…why are you being blinded by a teenage crush, even if it is hard core? This is not the best use of your brain or stubborn nature. You need to wake up and get it that Ashley is kind of a wuss. Maybe then you will realize that all those little thoughts and feelings actually mean you love Rhett. You had very bad timing to figure that out. Oh–and being nice every once in a while is ok. It pays off. If you could get this then maybe you wouldn’t be left Rhettless! Even though you totally deserved it.


  3. These are great! How about:

    Dear Mr. Swann: Odette doesn’t love you. She never did. She never will. She used to use you for sex and money, but now she’s tired of sleeping with you and she’s just trying to bleed you dry financially. GET OUT NOW.

    Dear Tom: You’re kind of a cad, but you’re an adorable and wicked [street-]smaht cad. Becky is too good for you.

    And to an author:

    Dear Ms. Fielding: Stop ripping off Jane Austen. The characters in Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are likable; Bridget Jones is simply witless and incompetent. You’re giving us singletons a bad name.

  4. these are great! more please! (is it possible to do To Kill a Mockingbird? too serious? give it a try – because tomorrow’s my birthday!)

  5. Mum says:

    Dear Binky,
    My dad says I should stay away from your kind of people. What do you think he really means? I could give you some of my allowance every month and then you would be just as rich as I am. Just think, then we could hold hands at recess (maybe even on top of the monkey bars) and just show Arthur, Francine, Buster and The Brain that we can be a couple…despite our differences. I’m going to go buy you a new smart phone for Valentine’s so we can text all the time.
    Muffy Crosswire
    P.S. Forget that I told you what your Valentine present is. I can’t wait to see how many Valentine gifts you give me!
    Mackenzie….how dare you not address any romance in the deep characters of children’s literature! :)

  6. Billy says:

    Dear JRR

    For someone who writes both prose and poetry somewhere between the moon and the edge of the universe you need a little help with names. I know there were a lot of names. People, places, elves, dwarfs, men, wizards, horses and creatures of an incredible imagination. You even created your own elven language, but really, for main characters go for a little differentiation, I think you could have done better with:
    Eomer and Eowyn, Eowyn and Arwen, Boromer and Faramer, Sauron and Saruman and of course the crown is to give your heros the unheroic names of Frodo and Samwise. But then they were reluctant heros….and a hobbits to boot. Not to worry; all is forgiven.


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