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Oct 23 2017
by Zoe Forest

10 Halloween Costumes for English Majors

By Zoe Forest - Oct 23 2017

Are you an English major or literature nerd searching for the perfect costume this Halloween? Consider one of the following. These costumes can all be made relatively inexpensively and they are sure to impress friends and professors alike. 

1. Miss Havisham from Great Expectations

Want something creepy? Try the woman who hasn't taken off her wedding dress or seen sunlight in who knows how many years. Hit up the thrift store to find a wedding veil and an old white dress, the more worn the better. Combine this with very pale make-up and get ready to break some hearts. 

2. Holden Caulfied from The Catcher in the Rye

If you want to avoid a phony costume on the phoniest holiday, Holden is perfect for you. Just put on a red hunting hat, carry around a baseball glove with poems written in green ink and criticize all the phonies around you. 

3. Partner Costume: The Old Man and the Sea

Are you and a friend looking for a pun-y literary partner costume? Have one person dress up as an old man and another wear a blue shirt with a letter C (can be made with fabric markers or a felt cutout) to represent Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

4. Scout's Ham Costume from To Kill a Mockingbird

Honor Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by proudly dressing up as ham, Scout's costume for the school pageant. This could be as simple as wearing brown pants and a brown shirt that says ham on it, or you could go all out with chicken wire and brown paper mâché like Scout. And if your father recently made someone very angry in court, this costume might just save your life while out trick-or-treating. 

5. The Oxford Comma


Show your support for the oxford comma by wearing it as your Halloween costume. All you need is a white shirt and either a black fabric marker or black fabric. Color on a comma or cut one out and glue it on. 

6. Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter

Don't mind proudly brandishing your sins for all to see? Consider Hester Prynne for Halloween. Pull out a black dress (or an old fashioned, 18th-century dress, perhaps from a thrift store) and make a scarlet letter A using paper, fabric or poster board. Either glue or pin it on your dress and everyone will know what you did. You could also add a pearl necklace or bracelet to represent Pearl. 

7. The Green Light from The Great Gatsby

Think going as Daisy or Jay is too obvious? Go for the more subtle Great Gatsby costume by wearing a green jumpsuit or all-green outfit to represent the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, or rather, Gatsby's unattainable hopes and dreams that are rooted in the past. 

8. Max from Where the Wild Things Are

If children's lit is your thing, there are so many costumes to choose from, including Max from Where the Wild Things Are. To make this costume, get a pair of white footsie pajamas, buy an animal tail from a party or costume store and make a yellow paper crown. Your friends can also dress up at the Wild Things to make it a group costume.

9. Group Costume: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy from Little Women

If you and your band of English majors love Little Women, pull on some 19th century dresses, curl your hair tight and hit the town with your sisters. Try searching for the Little Women musical to get some ideas for the types of dresses. If you have other friends who want to join, add a Laurie or any of the other male characters. 

10. Hermione Granger 

One of the greatest modern classics, Harry Potter is full of great Halloween costumes, although we bibliophiles probably identity most strongly with Hermione. Go to the thrift store to find a button-down white blouse and a black or grey sweater to go over it. Combine this with a pleated skirt, a gold tie painted with red stripes (for the Gryffindor tie) and a wand made from a stick. Gryffindor robes can also be purchased relatively inexpensively online. 

These costumes are all great for the literary nerd on a budget. You can also find ways to represent your personal favorite literary character. 

 Lead image credit: Pexels

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Zoe Forest - University of California, Berkeley

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