Of all the books this entire world contains, at least half of them are quite straightforward. You pick up a book such as Fifty Shades of Grey, you understand that it contains adult content and is about – for want of a better word – ‘kinky’ sex. Even complex books like Nineteen Eighty-Four usually has a widely accepted meaning.
But not always.
Sometimes, fans come up with theories about classic novels that are a little…different. These theories are so outlandish that even if you disagree with them, they’ll forever change the way you see your favourite books. The following are three fan theories that are revolving around three of our favourite books, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of course our beloved JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.
#1: Mr. Darcy was a slaver
Depending on whom you ask, Pride and Prejudice is either the greatest novel ever written, or the 19th century equivalent of trashy chick lit. The one thing everyone can agree on is that Mr. Darcy is the ultimate romantic hero: a dashing, brooding hunk who just happens to be both unbelievably rich and unexplainably attracted to the protagonist. Yet Darcy may be hiding a secret darker than his admirers would like to admit. It’s been theorized that his wealth comes directly from the slave trade.
There are only a few realistic avenues where Darcy’s annual income of £10,000 could come from. The most likely are the sugar trade and mining, two professions that relied on exploitation and horrendous working conditions.
If the theory seems tenuous, at least one other Austen work supports it. Mansfield Park’s wealthy Sir Thomas Bertram is depicted as an ashamed plantation owner, and several distinguished modern critics have claimed Austen was a passionate abolitionist.
#2: Frankenstein is about pregnancy and childbirth
A powerful tale of science, morality, and reanimated corpses, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is still popular today.
It’s generally read as a parable for man’s dangerous quest for knowledge and irresponsibility for his actions. But there’s a small chance it actually has a more earthbound meaning. It’s been suggested that Frankenstein is really a metaphor for childbirth.
In 1814, 16-year-old Mary Shelley eloped with her husband Percy. Eight months later, she suffered a miscarriage, losing her baby daughter. In 1815, she wrote the following journal entry:
“Dream that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lives.”
As horror fans will know, that passage echoes Frankenstein’s pivotal creation scene in a creepily close way. Consider also the words Shelley used to describe her monster’s birth. The word “labour” is used repeatedly, and other sections refer to the “incredible days and nights of labour and fatigue” necessary for Frankenstein to create life. The monster’s development even mimics that of a human child. Unlike the groaning beast of the films, Shelley’s version learns to speak and act like a man by observing other people.
#3:Harry Potter is doomed to immortality
Crazy Harry Potter theories are practically an Internet cottage industry. Anything with so many devoted followers is bound to spawn endless speculation, so JK Rowling’s series has been enthusiastically interpreted in every way possible.
The theory comes from a line about Harry and Voldemort’s destiny: “Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” In the books and film, this is interpreted to mean the two characters will be forced into an epic showdown. But some fans have since theorized it meant only Harry and Voldemort were capable of killing one another. With Voldemort dead at the end of the seventh book, this now means Harry has no means of dying. He’s become immortal.
In the Potter universe, that’s a pretty big deal.