Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Literary gifting: what would our favourite characters buy each other?

Christmas: the season where hope springs eternal, where laughter and good cheer are spread, and kindness to one’s fellow man predominates. It’d be nice if any of that were actually true, but let’s be honest, Christmas is really about the presents you get, and finding the perfect gift for someone is fraught with difficulty. It turns out shopping for loved ones is much harder than expected, and sometimes inspiration is hard to come by. Having said that, it would be interesting to see how our favourite literary characters would react to the pressures and peculiarities of the festive season.

Hermione Granger and Annabeth Chase

Now both Hermione, Harry Potter’s heroine, and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena, would have been prepared for Christmas weeks in advance. Lists would have been drawn up, and the task of finding presents for those closest to them would be approached with a level of resourcefulness and creativity that is typical of both characters. Tasked with finding presents for the other, both would rise to the challenge managing to come up with gifts that are both meaningful and intellectually stimulating.

These would have a protean charm added on to both, so that both Percy and Annabeth could communicate at all times

Annabeth would have noticed Hermione’s mythological name and love of reading, buying her a copy of The Iliad which tells the story of the mother of the mythological Hermione, Helen of Troy. Hermione, herself noticing Annabeth’s complaints at having to constantly drag Percy out of “whatever mess he’s gotten himself into this time” would gift Annabeth two silver owl necklaces. These would have a protean charm added on to both, so that both Percy and Annabeth could communicate at all times.

Achilles and Agamemnon

Achilles and Agamemnon would be made to get each other gifts.  Neither man particularly likes the other, but having drawn each other in the army’s Secret Santa, the exchange of gifts was unavoidable. As much as Achilles finds Agamemnon pompous and self-righteous, he would give his commanding officer due respect, and buy him a helmet cast in bronze with Agamemnon’s name inscribed upon it.

Agamemnon, on the other hand, would disregard any sense of respect in order to play a massive prank on Achilles. Knowing about Achilles’ dodgy ankle, he would jokingly buy him an ankle bracelet, so that Achilles would ‘know which ankle to protect in battle’. Achilles, understandably upset at this mockery of a chronic injury, so antithetical to the spirit of Christmas, demands Agamemnon make a full apology in front of the entire Secret Santa gathering. Agamemnon, angry that Achilles can’t take a joke, takes the ankle bracelet back from Achilles. He refuses to apologise and Achilles leaving the party in a huff.

Mr. Darcy and Jay Gatsby

Darcy, a member of the landed gentry, would find in Gatsby everything he loathes. A man of lower social rank, nouveau riche, trying to cultivate an air of mystique and sophistication that he has no right to lay claim to.  Darcy would see no reason to blow the budget on a man with such an apparent lack of class, and noticing his mutterings about some “green light”, he decides to buy Gatsby a set of green strobe lights to decorate his next party.

Darcy is shocked to discover his gift, a beautifully rendered portrait of Elizabeth Bennet

Gatsby, having put a lot of thought and care into his gift, is devastated by Darcy’s callousness regarding something so important to him. Gatsby leaves in great distress, leaving Darcy with his present. Darcy is shocked to discover his gift, a beautifully rendered portrait of Elizabeth Bennet, and slowly realises his feelings of superiority count for aught.

Sam-I-am and Old Major

Sam-I-am visits Old Major on Animal Farm. Times are tough on the farm, and with food in short supply, Sam-I-am has arrived to supply the green eggs and ham. Old Major, the prize-winning boar, has not had the time to buy Sam a material gift. Instead, he offers Sam a sermon on the value of the common share, and the equality of all animals.

Sam-I-am attempts to offer the pigs on the farm green eggs and ham. They initially reject the offer as Christmas has no meaning on the farm, where they do not worship the deities of rampant consumer greed. However, times are indeed tough on the farm, and with the food rations running low, they accept Sam-I am’s offer of some holiday cheer.

In short, the holidays are tough. Deciding what gifts to get your loved ones is always complicated. But, as literature shows, managing to find that perfect gift is incredibly difficult, and that sometimes the best gift is to be caring, considerate, and kind.

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