9 Characters Whose Families Drove Them Nuts, Because You Shouldn’t Feel Alone This Holiday

It’s Christmastime — time for a ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ and not a ‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!' (Your maniacal laughter as you’re fitted for your straight jacket and put in the back of the friendly white van.) You’re home for the holidays and it’s driving you insane. But you’ve got to keep it together, Crazy. If literature has taught us anything, it’s that families were put on this earth to drive you mad and when they put you in an asylum it’s really just a sign of affection. And they’ll do it, too. Which is why you’ve got to be cool.

But how to maintain the façade of lucidity? Here are just a few tips for behaviors you should not exhibit, from the great authors. Try not to talk to skulls. Or throw flowers at people. Maybe not such a good idea to put arsenic in the sugar bowl. You know what? Murder is off limits. Full stop. And don’t throw all your clothes in the bathtub and set them on fire unless you really feel you must.

It might be hard because you’re a woman and prone to be hysterical. If you feel madness coming on, try to bake, clean or darn something until the feeling passes. Or you could withdraw to your room with a surly look and one of these books. Just be sure to give out a wicked cackle every now and then, to keep your family on their toes.

1. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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“Oh that this too, too sullied flesh would melt” is how you say “Mom, stop being such a slut!” in Shakespearean. Poor Hamlet. His mom really was the worst. And that girlfriend of his was such a pushover. Oops. Hamlet’s bad.

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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I know, you’re shocked. It’s a listicle about insanity and Shirley Jackson is on it? Surely, I can't be serious.

3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The worst part about family is that they always think that your hobbies are stupid and don’t support you. Or you know, they think your hobbies are evil and you’re under the influence of Satan. Parents just don’t understand.

4. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Here’s a frightening thought: Craziness is contagious and the insane are slowly sucking the life force out of us to gain control over their own warped minds. The closer they get to you, the stronger their power. A lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work was based on his own life. I wonder why he drank?

5. Carrie by Stephen King

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They’re all going to laugh at you! They’re all going to laugh at you! Plug it up. Plug it up. Plug it up. They’re all going to laugh at you! John Travolta! Flames. Flames. Ba ha ha ha. Best prom night ever, Mom. Die. (Do you think Carrie’s favorite book growing up was Matilda? I’ve always wondered.)

6. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

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Understatement. We need to talk about Kevin … what? Being scary as all hell? Getting to creative with liquid Drano? Whether maybe we should not encourage him to hunt? Being committed? Yes. Yes, we do.

7. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

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All you need to know? The Bell Jar light. And it’s an Angelina Jolie joint.

8. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

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You know why it’s a bad idea to depend on the kindness of strangers? Because they are really mean. Instead, maybe think about starting your own small business. Or you know, don’t try to seduce your students. That’s crazy.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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Buck up, kid. At least that crazy family didn’t lock you up in the attic! All the same, don’t set your dad’s new girlfriend on fire, okay? She’s pluckier than she looks.

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