Most great works of fiction, however different they may be, have one thing in common: they’re told from the perspective (first-person or not) of a very compelling protagonist—someone we come to know well, whose trials and travails we sympathize with. It’s for the sake of this character, very often, that we make the journey at all. But what if some of our favorite great works of literature were told by different characters? Here are some reversals we’d love to see, because we are nothing if not contrary beasts.
1. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
From the whale’s point of view! While this epic tale of obsession is a powerful one as-is, wouldn’t it be nice to hear what its eponymous villain had to say about being pursued by a crazed fisherman? Ahab, you lovable scamp. Away with you, Ishmael. Narrate on, you great white whale!
2. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
From the sea’s point of view! The obvious choice here would be to nix Santiago and let the marlin tell the tale. But I’m not about the obvious, y’all: let’s keep things simple. We’ve heard from the old man, now the hour has come to hear from the sea. Though this is, to be honest, problematic, because I can’t imagine a book full of onomatopoeia-like renderings of ocean sounds would make for very compelling reading.
3. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
From Bill Sikes’s point of view! Gone is the Victorian tale of a young man and his swiftly changing fortunes. In its place comes a guide to thievery and bad boyfriending. Just what none of us needed even a little bit.
4. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
From the goat’s perspective! Are there even goats in Heidi? If not, there should be. I’ve always considered goats to be particularly adept storytellers. Wait, okay, so I went and checked and THERE ARE MAD GOATS IN HEIDI. I stand by my choice. Second choice: Heidi’s surly grandfather.
5. Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy Maude Montgomery
From the Island’s perspective! As much as I love tales of the writerly, orphaned redhead from Prince Edward Island, I love Prince Edward Island more. I would give the world to know what it has to say about Anne and her various exploits. Whatever it is, I bet it’s sassy…in a Canadian way.
6. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
From the prison’s perspective! Yes, yes, epic tale of revenge, we get it—but you know what I’d totally check out? A novel written by an actual prison. Done and dusted.
7. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
From Helen Burns’s perspective! Novels exploring another character’s perspective in this story have been done. But one told from the perspective of Jane’s childhood friend? Bring it on. Also, for the impatient among us, it would be blessedly brief.
8. Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes
From the windmill’s perspective! The real twist here is that the windmill also thinks it is a dragon.
9. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
From the letter’s perspective! It would be like a much, much more ominous version of Sesame Street. “Here I am, the letter A! I am bright and red and shiny! I stand for apple! And also…other things.” Indeed.
What secondary character would you like to see take the leading role?