Ever feel like you’re battling the Dark Lord and hormones at the same time?
By Terry Mooney, Ohio State University
People love to describe college as one big roller coaster ride.
This is decently accurate; however, it’s more like a roller coaster ride at an abandoned amusement park where there are no ride attendants to make sure you’re strapped in, so you pretty much just hope for the best and hold on for your life.
Like any good roller coaster ride, college has its ups and downs, feelings of bliss and of horror, complete with a copious amount of tears (and maybe a little throw up). Due to the wide range of emotions and constant teetering on the brink of contentedness and full-on panic, college evokes an array of different moods and personalities that can leave one feeling like the bald-headed guy from “Split.”
But, fear not, you are not alone. Upon a simple investigation into the word of literature, it is clear that many of the ways you feel in college can be related back to some of the greatest, albeit most tortured, literary characters, such as these three.
1. Holden Caulfield
Holden is the adolescent protagonist in the controversial book “The Catcher in the Rye,” and his cynicism is downright inspiring. You think you experienced teenage angst? This kid was so angsty that it spiraled him into a complete existential crisis. Holden feels lost and isolated from the world, and thus wanders the streets of New York, muttering that everyone around him is a “phony.”
Now, I don’t know about any of you, but this is a typical Monday for me; sometimes you just feel like you’re the only person on campus who has any sense at all, and for whatever reason, it makes things a whole hell of a lot easier to just complain. However, the character of Holden is quite complex, which is why there are multiple instances where a college student could relate to him.
Throughout the novel, Holden constantly lies about his age, attempting to act older than he is by smoking cigarettes and drinking. Sound familiar? Yep, I’m sure Holden would’ve killed for a nice mass-produced fake ID, so just remember, next time you get denied from a bar, do what Holden did and settle in to a nice hotel room and order yourself a prostitute (on second thought, please do not follow any of this advice).
Yet still, in “The Catcher in the Rye” despite Holden’s rather sour attitude, his driving goal is the preservation of innocence, and for anyone who has ever blocked their parents on social media to prevent them from seeing your collegiate photo albums, well, you’re just like Holden, too.
2. (Prepubescent) Neville Longbottom
Oh, Neville. You sweet, poor soul.
Before his illustrious surge into greatness toward the end of the Harry Potter series, Neville was a very relatable character. From his first appearance in the books, the kid can’t catch a break. I’m not sure exactly how many L’s poor Neville took in the first book alone, but it certainly seemed like he was almost messing up on purpose.
Now, don’t get me wrong, one should take the Neville comparison with a certain amount of pride. Imagine trying to battle dark magic and puberty at the same time; I would’ve been the only wizard at Hogwarts who wore black eyeshadow and stayed locked in my room listening to Blink 182.
Yet, despite his great efforts, Neville simply can’t seem to do anything right, which is what makes his character delightfully lovable and quite relatable. Anytime I’m taking a new semester of courses, I average about six to seven Neville-inspired incidents per day.
But, if Neville taught us anything, it’s that even the most seemingly desperate of students can eventually become great. So, next time you break a beaker in Chem 101, just remember that someday, you will help defeat the Dark Lord. Or ya know, get a job or something.
3. Mr. Hyde
This one is a no-brainer. Mr. Hyde is the evil alter-ego of Dr. Jekyll, a man skilled in his craft, yet plagued by the temptation of vice. As college students, deprived of sleep, sufficient nutrients and the general ability to make consistently responsible decisions, many of us go to sleep as Dr. Jekyll and awake at 8 a.m. for class as Mr. Hyde, both in attitude and, in many cases, appearance.
As opposed to Dr. Jekyll, who is a quaint, respectable man, Mr. Hyde is less of a man and more of a beast, fueled by the constant consumption of various vices, such as sex and alcohol. Essentially, Dr. Jekyll is you normally, and Mr. Hyde is you after a few hours at the bar. Just as Dr. Jekyll can only change to Mr. Hyde when he drinks a potion, so can you only become your mischievous alter-ego when you drink six rum and Cokes.
The transformation is not pretty, but it is certainly necessary. Dr. Jekyll works fastidiously at his doctor practice and is very well-mannered and morally sound; however, he breaks out the potion and turns into Mr. Hyde when it’s time to blow of some steam and indulge in some debauchery.
Similarly, you work your ass off all week, reading, taking tests and putting on a smiling facade for your teacher who gave you a C- on your French III paper because it “lacked a general understanding of French,” only to then drink your potion on Friday night and adopt the Mr. Hyde lifestyle.
College never fails to keep you on your toes or flat on your damn face. The vast amount of varying experiences you will endure will leave your mood and general disposition changing more than a house full of sorority girls whose periods have all linked up.
However, fear not, because everyone in college will eventually embody these three literary characters and the defining characteristics that come along with them.