We still have a year to wait for the release of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film adaptation, and I don’t know about you, but that’s way too long for me! (ICYMI, the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a mashup of Austen’s classic and elements of zombie fiction. In it, Lizzie Bennet and her sisters are as renowned for their zombie fighting skills as they are for their beauty and accomplishments.)
Upon rereading the novel recently, I started wondering, what other classic literature characters might make good zombie slayers? You know you’ve thought about it, too. Here are my picks.
The Leaders: Jane Eyre and Atticus Finch*
With a ragtag band of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world where all political and social order has decayed, keeping a sense of humanity and morality is crucial for the future of the species. Charlotte Bronte’s most famous heroine’s strength of character and steady moral compass and To Kill a Mockingbird’s hero’s ability to mediate conflicts and enact justice will make them both very good leaders for the team, and having two leaders will ensure that neither becomes a dictator. Plus, if it’s Atticus Finch as played by Gregory Peck, he’s easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt at all.
- Marian Halcombe
If you’re going to pick a literary detective, you’d probably think of Sherlock Holmes, right? That would be a good choice, but I think Marian is a better one. She’s the real heroine of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. She’s resourceful, loyal, and good at thinking on her feet. She deserves most of the credit for solving the novel’s central mystery, and she’s something of an early feminist when she notes, “No man under heaven deserves these sacrifices from us women… they take us body and soul to themselves, and fasten our helpless lives to theirs as they chain up a dog to his kennel. And what does the best of them give us in return?” Who doesn’t want an awesome woman like that in their corner?
- Friar Laurence
I’m thinking that if he can create a potion to make Juliet appear to be dead so convincingly as to make Romeo kill himself (idiot), he can come up with one for living humans to use to disguise themselves as the undead, and thus move freely among them. Or maybe he could even create something that could cure the zombie infection altogether. (Side note: I would not want either Romeo or Juliet on my team, and definitely not the two of them together. They’d be no help, and would probably die trying to save each other and endanger the rest of the group in the process. Plus, they’re both super dumb and whiny.)
- Victor Frankenstein
Mostly just because he has lots of experience with reanimated corpses. I don’t really care for his character that much.
- Sir Gawain
If you’re going to choose one of the Knights of the Round Table to be on your zombie fighting team, you would probably think of Lancelot, right? But here’s the thing: he’s a jerk. Gawain is much more heroic and more truly chivalrous. While I prefer T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, which portrays Gawain as a bit surlier than Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur does, both sources showcase his bravery and skill in battle. Plus, the earlier story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight proves that he’s good at cutting off heads, an essential trait in any zombie killer.
- Abraham Van Helsing
The professor and vampire hunter of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an expert on vampires, so zombies should be a piece of cake. And while in the original novel he’s not portrayed as particularly warrior-like, I prefer to picture the character loosely based on him as played by Hugh Jackman in the movie Van Helsing.
- Robin Hood
One of the many things I’ve learned from The Walking Dead is that swords, bows, and arrows, unlike bullets, are all reusable weapons, which is a very important advantage in a world most likely left with no manufacturing. If one of our most important weapons is the bow and arrow, I want the best archer in literature on my side. (If this post wasn’t restricted to classic literature, I would want Katniss Everdeen, too.)
Dude will cut anybody.
Just For Fun:
- Frank Churchill
I’ve always felt that Frank is one of the most underappreciated of Austen’s characters. Sure, he’s kind of a jerk, he’s inconsiderate and deceitful, and he uses other people to his own advantage… OK, maybe he deserves the dislike. But you can’t deny that he’s funny and good at keeping a crowd entertained. He could invent some games for the group to play in between zombie slaying or entertain us with song. I hear he has a lovely singing voice.
- Beatrice and Benedick
These two would be sure to share some witty banter and raise everyone’s spirits, and their playful romance would give us all hope for humanity’s future.
*Note: The recent revelation in Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set A Watchman that Atticus may not be the completely upstanding hero he’s been considered for the past half century certainly shades my opinion of his ability to lead fairly. For now, I’ll stick with my choice, but I may re-evaluate when I finish reading the new novel and have a chance to process.
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