Nothing spoils an otherwise good story like a bad ending. And there are often times when, though we may grudgingly admit that a particular ending was fitting, we can’t help but wish that things had turned out differently- that the romantic pairings had been different, a villain hadn’t gotten off so lightly, or some particular character had just made slightly more sensible decisions. Well, today some of these injustices will (hopefully) be rectified, as we investigate how select works of literature perhaps should have ended.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Angel Clare: Tess, will you marry me?
Tess: Yes! But before we get carried away, you should probably know that, a few years ago, I was assaulted by my scumbag of a cousin, and subsequently gave birth to a baby who later died. Is this going to be an issue?
Angel Clare: Ew, get away from me, whore!
Tess: Okay, then. Have fun in Brazil, asshat.
Angel goes off to Brazil and gets deathly ill. Meanwhile, Tess continues working at Talbothay’s dairy where, at her suggestion, several ingenious innovations are implemented, which increase both quality and production. Tess is promoted to a management position, where she begins working closely with Mr. Talbothay’s son, who respects her business acumen and is accepting of her past. The two of them marry and, following the death of Mr. Talbothay, take over the farm, which, under their management, becomes the largest dairy producer in the county. A penitent Angel returns from Brazil, only to discover that Tess has moved on. Unable to make it on his own as a farmer, he ends up returning to Talbothay’s and working for Tess and her new husband. Meanwhile, Alec d’Urberville loses all his money, contracts syphilis, and dies a miserable, painful, lonely death in the workhouse.
Ishmael: Queequeg, I’ve been thinking. You and I met at an inn owned by a man named Peter Coffin, which had, as part of its decor, a painting of a ship being destroyed by an angry whale. We then listened to a sermon about Jonah in a church heavily dedicated to people who died at sea. We have since signed on to a ship captained by a man named after a Biblical king who provoked the wrath of God. Furthermore, we have since been warned against this same ship by a creepy doomsayer with the same name as a Biblical prophet of doom. Call me crazy, but I think all of this is what’s known as “foreshadowing,” and it does not bode well for us.
Queequeg: Me think-ee you right! ‘Spos-ee we choose-ee ‘nother ship-ee?
Ishmael: Excellent idea, my heathen friend!
Ishmael and Queequeg proceed to sign on to one of the other whaling ships. They have a successful and otherwise uneventful whaling trip, in the course of which Ishamel learns, once and for all, that whales are not fish. They return to Nantucket after a profitable voyage, and enjoy many years of a long and beautiful friendship.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo: So, here’s what I’m thinking- we’ll meet at the church tomorrow, have Friar Lawrence marry us, and then get the hell out of Dodge Verona. That work?
Juliet: Sounds like a plan! I’ll pack tonight.
The two lovers are married in secret. Then, rather than hang around Verona fighting duels, killing each other’s cousins, getting exiled, and concocting elaborate schemes involving faking their own deaths, they immediately skip town, leave the country, and open a charming inn in the south of France, where they live happily ever after, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
Prince: Excuse me, Miss, but I don’t believe we’ve been introduced?
Cinderella: *curtsies* Good evening, Your Highness. My name is Ella (thinks to herself “Boy, it sure is good that I’m not a total idiot and that my parents managed to instill basic etiquette in me before their untimely deaths, otherwise I might not have known that literally the first thing you do when you meet someone new is tell them your name. That could have led to all kinds of unnecessary complications!”)
Prince: It is a pleasure to meet you, Ella. Would you care to dance?
Cinderella: Of course, but would you mind terribly if I ditched these shoes first? I know they’re gorgeous and one-of-a-kind and all, but frankly, they’re wicked uncomfortable.
Prince: Not at all!
The Prince and Cinderella proceed to dance, converse, and have an otherwise delightful evening, until…
Cinderella: Oh my goodness, it’s 11:30! I’m so sorry, I really must go, I have to be home by midnight!
Prince: That’s a shame. But, if it’s all right, I’d really love to see you again.
Cindrella: Oh, I’d love that, but the thing is…well, I live with my stepmother and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t allow it at all. I’m not even supposed to be here tonight, actually.
Cinderella leaves and is home by curfew. Meanwhile, the Prince arranges for the stepmother and stepsisters to win the grand prize from that evening’s royal raffle- an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean! With the evil step-family an ocean away, he and Cinderella are free to date and get to know each other like normal people, thereby laying the groundwork for the happy, long-lasting marriage that ensues, which really is a far more sensible approach to things than rushing into marriage with a total stranger you’ve met once, for a few hours, and later could only identify because of shoe size.