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Misaimed Fandom: Literature
Examples of Misaimed Fandom for characters in Literature.

  • Pretty much everything Robert Burns ever wrote. He was trying to impress English gentry, using "quaint" Scots language as a gimmick. The gentry did not care. A whole lot of native Scots speakers, however, were delighted, and Scottish people continue to be his main fanbase.
    • It should be noted, however, that Burns was a Scottish Nationalist. In another example of Misaimed Fandom, Burns is commemorated by British Loyalists in Northern Ireland every year.
      • Loyalists who are also fiercely proud of their Scottish roots and who possibly disagree with the notion that to like a writer's work you have to agree with every single aspect of his philosophy and politics.
  • Joey Comeau's Lockpick Pornography gets a lot of readers rooting for the narrator, which has caused Comeau to reply, "Aw but I hate what he does." This might to some extent be a case of a character being mistaken for an Author Avatar, since both Comeau and his protagonist are openly queer and fond of sexy trouble.
  • Dean Koontz takes special care to depict his villains as petty-minded, yet when compared to the heroes - who are not only Nice Guys but are often judgmental, preachy and self-righteous, and downright irritating when humor is attempted - this often makes his villains far more interesting characters. Even if the villains wants to murder innocent people or destroy mankind, they usually have nice houses, clear motivations and the determination to reach them, Evil Virtues, and often cool powers resulting in Misaimed Fandom. As result, in recent books, Dean Koontz has been trying to make his heroes even more virtuous Deadpan Snarkers and giving his villains even less intelligence, depth, personality or backstory with even more pointlessly evil goals that could never succeed. It doesn't always work, and the villain is still more interesting to read about, proving that even when the author goes out to say that Being Evil Sucks, some readers will still say Evil Is Cool.
  • Go to author Sinclair Lewis' hometown of Sauk Centre, Minnesota sometime. In addition to the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center, his grave site (where he was buried against his wishes, as he had wanted his cremated remains scattered), and the Gopher Prairie Motel, the high school's sports teams are called The Main Streeters. Fact is, Sinclair Lewis hated his hometown, and his books (especially Main Street) are pull-no-punches scathing indictments of the hypocrisy of the "Minnesota Nice" he saw in the allegedly "nice little towns" that dot rural Minnesota.
    • Not that Sinclair Lewis was fond of the city, either. His works often boil down to "Yes, the city can be cold, cruel, and impersonal, but rural America can be just as cold and cruel, but it's always personal. Which is worse?"
  • Friedrich Nietzsche's writings were enthusiastically endorsed by Hitler's regime, particularly his concept of the Overman (übermensch), as a philosophical buttress for Nazism's ideals of "Aryan" supremacy and anti-Semitism. Nietzsche's Overman concept was an ideal for the individual to strive towards and had nothing to do with the pseudo-scientific "Aryan race" doctrines of his time. Furthermore, although Nietzsche wasn't pro-Jewish, he hated German anti-Semitic groups with a passion. The Misaimed Fandom was caused by Nietzsche's sister, who was an active anti-Semite, editing her brother's works to conform to her own views after he was too demented to know about it. It also didn't help that the best student of Nietzsche's philosophy, Martin Heidegger, actually was a card-carrying member of the NSDAP, and not just for the benefits; he never repented for having joined the party, although he did comment that he had joined under the mistaken assumption that Hitler would help in the program of "awakening" the German people to a better future (Hitler didn't) and that the Nazis stood for anything other than hating "non-Aryans" (Heidegger didn't, and actually had quite the case of Matzo Fever). Sadly, during and for some time after World War II, Nietzsche had an undeservedly bad reputation in much of the world as a proto-Nazi — hence the existence of the Nietzsche Wannabe trope.
    • It's worse than that - not only did Nietzsche hate anti-Semitism, but he also hated pan-Germanism and to a lesser extent criticised nationalism as well. See, for instance, aphorism 337 of The Gay Science. He had such a distaste for German nationalism and all things German—whom he increasingly saw as uncivilised wreckers and imitators—that he began digging through his past to prove that he was of partial Polish heritage (which is not unlikely), and shortly before he went insane was known to insist that he was entirely Polish (which he probably wasn't). People tend to forget this, but after Jews and Roma, the Poles were next on the Nazis' hit list...
    • Not to mention that Loeb and Leopold (thrill-killers; their crime was called "The Crime of the Century" at the time) were apparently devoted readers of Nietzsche who saw themselves as his Superman.
  • There is a growing amount of slash fanfic based on Ayn Rand's books. Rand was such a homophobe (although she simultaneously supported gay marriage) that she's probably spinning in her grave.
    • Italy's fascist government approved a film version of We The Living (without Rand's permission) on the grounds that it was anti-communist. Several months after the film's release, it was pulled when the government realized the story was just as much anti-fascist.
    • The co-opting of Atlas Shrugged by American Conservatives and the Tea Party would be another example of Misaimed Fandom. While her work was favorable of (self-made) millionaires, it also negatively depicted CEOs that made money relying on favorable government deals. Not to mention her ardent atheism would be at odds with the Religious Right. Not that it doesn't stop pundits like Sean Hannity from making a cameo in the movie adaptation.
  • Among those who criticize Kurt Vonnegut, it is commonly stated that his novel Slaughterhouse-Five wants us to agree with the Tralfamadorians, a completely apathetic race of alien toilet plungers to whom war and death mean nothing. He's satirizing that pattern of thought in humans; to him, people who think that way are as ridiculous as living plungers.
    • Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron" is often taken to be a parable against socialism. This ignores Vonnegut's oft-professed admiration for socialism, and for socialist heroes like Eugene Debs. In light of this the story may be read as a satire of American fears or misconceptions of what socialism would look like.
    • Considering that the government's methods of control are hilariously absurd (loud noises to prevent thought, sandbags on ballerinas to make them less graceful) that makes sense. Also complicating things, consider that there's a subtle justification for the government: Harrison's first action in the story is to declare himself supreme emperor based solely on his superior abilities. And, as a teenager, his first priority as leader is getting laid. That can't really be described as pro-democratic capitalism.
  • Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho was written as a satire of the yuppie culture of the '80s, yet was subjected to massive protests by feminist groups due to violent scenes against women. Too many people read the book for what was written and not what it was saying. To add to the irony, in the film version, the title character was played by none other than Gloria Steinem's stepson!
    • This trope has affected many of his other works as well. His first novel, Less Than Zero, was intended as an attack upon the soullessness and amorality of 1980s consumerist culture, especially among young people of his generation. Naturally, in an interview he said that it was not uncommon for fans to come up to him and tell him that Less Than Zero was the book that made them want to move to L.A.
  • And Then There Were None: Agatha Christie unintentionally succeeded in making some of her most despicable murderers (such as, oh, the child-killing Yandere, or anti-Semitic Social Darwinist the most sympathetic characters in her fandom, if the artwork (and fanfiction) based on said characters is any indication.
    • Then again, it's often a trademark of Agatha Christie to give each of her murderers varying degrees of sympathy, so it's entirely possibly she made said characters morally ambiguous on purpose to let the reader be the judge for themselves.
  • Angels and Demons' descriptions of the Illuminati make them sound like they're a Misaimed Fandom of science, dogmatically and intolerantly plotting against the Catholic Church for being dogmatic and intolerant. Apparently, believing in Science means you never subject the antiquated grudges of your own secret society to the same critical scrutiny as you do the workings of the physical universe. Subverted in that it's not really scientists who are behind the plot, so the above view only illustrates how the real villain thinks science's advocates would think.
    • Just to confuse things further, reviewers' unwillingness to include spoilers when they discuss the plot tends to conceal the subversion from potential audiences, causing many people who never even read/saw it to assume that Dan Brown is bashing Science this time. Can you have a Misaimed Fandom of people who never actually read what they've misinterpreted?
  • In Battle Royale a good amount of fans love the series not for its action, story, or even characters. They love the series because they can't help wishing that their class was in The Program. Obviously, said fans are actually quite similar to the character Oda; a student that despises all of his classmates and doesn't hesitate to try to kill them.
  • In the Black Jewels series, Anne Bishop stated explicitly that she was trying to explore and reverse some gender roles; The gendered weakness emphasized by stereotypical 'feminine' afflictions that didn't for a moment lessen the authority of the matriarchal society, the acknowledgment and exaggeration of how damaging sexual assault was by making the psychic trauma a quantifiable thing, the fact that rape or accusations of rape casts a serious stigma on the male perpetrator, not the victim and many other gender role reversals without making the behavior at all unrecognizable. Nonetheless, because bad things happen to women in her series outcry has been made in fandom that it's terribly misogynistic.
  • The Book of Lord Shang is very keen on war and giving the army something to fight. In support of this, Shang cites The Art of War, in spite of the fact that Sun Tzu said that war should be resorted to as rarely as possible.
  • Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, though clearly intended against paradise engineering, has its own following of people advocating the idea that Huxley's vision didn't go far enough.
  • The Ciaphas Cain series gives an In-Universe example. Amberley Vail, the in-universe editor, notes in one of the forewords that while she was pleasantly surprised to find that her abridgments of Cain's memoirs are popular among her fellow Inquisitors, she's slightly put out that many of them prefer to treat them as light entertainment rather than the "serious food for thought" she'd intended them to serve as.
  • A Clockwork Orange. Lots of teens (and not so teens) tend to ignore the final chapter of the book (where Alex acknowledges his wrongdoings) and start dressing up like him and even learning nadsat. It doesn't help that the movie made the message look like the exact opposite. This is because the final chapter of the book changes the interpretation completely, and it was omitted from most US editions. (As often snarkily noted, this is perhaps the only instance of a piece of fiction being edited for US consumption because it was too optimistic.)
    • The U.S. publisher left off the last chapter because he felt it was a cop out. It's easy to see the last chapter as Burgess flinching from his own message for emotional reasons.
  • Henry James' Daisy Miller is a story of a girl whose wealthy American peers misjudge her for acting too free-spirited and independent (read: American) in Europe. James was criticizing the aristocratic snobs in the novella who snub Daisy and act ashamed of her. Americans' initial reaction? They hated Daisy and were ashamed of her.
    • James himself once, in an incident G. K. Chesterton talked about in his autobiography, got an object lesson in how Americans didn't actually understand Europe, whether they liked it or not. He was visiting Chesterton, who was vacationing at Rye, and James was saying something complimentary about European refinement and class...and then Hilaire Belloc, the most European person in the world, shows up after having come back from France with no money, unshaven, in workmen's clothes, and shouting for Chesterton to give him bacon and beer. Belloc was in Parliament at the time; it sorta blew James' mind.
  • Frederick Forsyth wrote his title assassin in The Day of the Jackal to embody everything he found repulsive: a charming but emotionless sociopath who only cares about money. Forsyth was reportedly dismayed that many readers treated the Jackal as the book's hero instead of the Villain Protagonist he'd intended.
  • Don Quixote offers examples in and out Universe:
    "… But above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban, especially when he saw him sallying forth from his castle and robbing everyone he met, and when beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, as his history says, was entirely of gold."
    • Out-universe, while Cervantes intended for Quixote to be a cutting parody of the romantized reception of the feudal system in his day, Quixote's quest to bring back knightly chivalry has a certain appeal to many hopelessly romantic idealists. Some adaptations of his work, such as Man of La Mancha have even opted for this interpretation.
  • Count Dracula, upon reading the original novel that launched the character, is clearly meant to be an ancient, evil, crazy half-demon thing. His fashion sense and tendency to be played by sexy European actors made him beloved, and nearly single-handedly launched the Vampires Are Sex Gods trope.
  • The English Patient: The relationship between Almasy and Katherine is a dangerous, destructive obsession that ends up claiming not only both of their lives but also the life of Katherine's husband. Yet it's held up by many as one of the greatest love stories of its time, perhaps due to the film adaptation glorifying the affair more than the book had.
    • See also the Misaimed Fandom of Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, The Phantom of the Opera. Romantic relationships seem to possess a strong tendency to fall into this trope. Romeo and Juliet deserves a special mention here, with many people seeing it as an example of 'perfect' love, instead of a story about how love can cause people to make bad decisions and result in loss. This is evident in common perceptions of the term 'star crossed lovers' as something romantic, rather than 'fated to bad ends'.
  • Fight Club The point of the book is that although Tyler Durden does have valid criticism of consumer culture, lessons that people could genuinely improve their lives by following, Tyler takes it to a murderous extreme, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The idea is to show the downsides of both rampant materialism and the sexy, cool nihilism of Tyler Durden, promoting a balanced viewpoint. There's a significant misaimed fandom that misses the point entirely; however, the entire point of "WWTDD? (What Would Tyler Durden Do?)" is to get people to stop blindly accepting consumer culture, with an ironic twist. Unless the wearer is an idiot, which happens a lot, too.
  • Flashman is another shining example. George Macdonald Fraser intended his Victorian Anti-Hero to be a hateful character that readers despised. Considering that in the first book Flashman's not only an inveterate coward, womanizer and bigot, but also a rapist, one would be hard-pressed rooting for him. Yet from the word go, many readers embraced Flashman as an outright hero, to a degree that alternately amused and annoyed Fraser. Admittedly the books are essentially comedic and Flashman fulfills an Only Sane Man role next to his contemporaries, so there's some room for Alternate Character Interpretation.
  • Foucaults Pendulum: An example of this trope In-Universe turns up in this Umberto Eco novel. Three intellectuals, using a computer program and a smorgasbord of occult, esoteric and conspiracy-theory texts, create a "manifesto" for the fictional secret society "The Tres" as a satire of secret societies and the gullibility and fanaticism surrounding both these societies and their critics. The secret society catches on against their wills.
    • Eco likely based this scenario off the anonymously-published 17th-century Fama Fraternitatis, which claimed to be the manifesto of a centuries-old mystical Christian brotherhood, the Rosiscrucians. The work eventually inspired a number of rival Rosicrucian societies, even though many historians consider the work an elaborate hoax; not only is there no evidence for the existence of such a movement prior to the 18th century, but the Fama was initially published together with an obviously fictional comical story about an absurd, failed utopian "reform."
  • The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov's was intended it to be ironic; he hated school as a child because the classes were paced for less able students and he did not get along with his teachers. Many people, though, miss the intended irony (having forgotten just how bad school is) and take the story's concluding sentence at face value. It's even appeared in elementary school readers, presumably to get kids to appreciate school...
    • It Gets Worse: The story was so frequently used in that context, it's far and away Asimov's most anthologised work... all thanks to editors who completely missed the point.
  • Neil Strauss' The Game is often viewed (and marketed) as the only pickup manual any guy needs to get laid. People who aren't part of the PUA community and see videos of Strauss online frequently admire him for the way he can "decode" a woman's unconscious physical signals and charm them into bed. What most people seem to forget, though, is that Strauss became a pickup expert primarily due to an introverted personality that kept him from maintaining a relationship. Not only that, but the narrative makes it perfectly clear that being a pickup artist sucks - Strauss learns that the community discredited his techniques due to years of overuse (thus becoming "social robots"), his mentor has a psychotic breakdown and almost commits suicide, and none of the techniques he perfected work on the one woman he wanted to be with (forcing him to be himself and admit his misgivings to her). Even worse, he notes that Project Hollywood, the "haven" in West Hollywood created by fellow PUA 'Tyler Durden', descended into such anarchy that Strauss ended up leaving them behind. Yet, he is still seen as a role model by impressionable men and people who want to get into the PUA community.
  • Gullivers Travels was written by Swift as a biting satire. Instead of being recognized for its wit and vicious commentary on the state of man and civilization, it instead became a beloved children's classic. To expedite this, many adaptations only cover Lilliput; almost no adaptations contain any hints of parts three and four.
    • Really, most of Swift's work has been subject to misaimed fandom. The essay A Modest Proposal was meant to make the English realize what they were doing to the Irish, but instead people just laughed at the satire and did nothing.
  • "The Heathen Chinee" was written in 19th century Northern California by author Bret Harte, who opposed racial discrimination. The narrative poem satirized anti-Chinese sentiment, which was widespread at the time. Readers of the poem and the periodicals that reprinted it widely interpreted it as mocking the Chinese. It was often recited by opponents of Chinese immigration, and Harte was thanked by a Senator who held anti-Chinese sentiment. Harte later heavily disparaged the poem, but it still became one of the most popular among the anti-Chinese movement.
  • Harry Potter: J. K. Rowling, author of the series, has frequently complained about the vocal fanbases of Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape. Part of it is that the good guys intentionally eschew the trappings of power, including mere refinement, which turns into Evil Is Cool and Good Is Dumb — and almost Dumb Is Good — with even the slightest fumble. And, of course, it didn't help that the movie versions of Malfoy and Snape were played by the easy-on-the-eyes Tom Felton and Alan Rickman, respectively.
    • Granted, the Malfoy family and Snape are shown to be the most morally ambiguous of the Death Eaters. Snape leans heavily on the good side by the end and has a Freudian Excuse. The Malfoy family are at least not as unlikeable as before, and tend more toward doing whatever it takes to make sure that the family survive and stay together.
      • It's also sort of interesting that people tend to mention Snape as right alongside Draco in the leather pants area, though Rowling seems far less concerned over people liking Snape than liking Draco. Then again, any time someone asks her who her favorite character other than Harry is, Snape gets mentioned, so... many people love him because of the actor, but just as many like him for the same reasons Rowling does. A lot of the vehement hatred toward him seems fueled by fandom rivalries, just like Sirius.
      • The chapter on Snape's memories in book 7 really helped show he was good all along, and put his actions into a broader context that made it almost impossible not to sympathise with him despite all he'd done.
    • Then there are the folks who think that Bellatrix is the perfect feminist role model or that Tom Riddle is a Bad Ass Book Worm to begin with, being driven further into evil by Dumbledore's paranoia and favoritism.
    • Certain segments of the fandom believe that being a specific blood status is better - Rowling disagrees.
      • There's also a divide of the fandom over the term "Muggles" as equivalent to either a politically correct distinction or an ethnic slur. This is in addition to "Mudblood", which is definitely a canon slur against those of Muggle descent who have magic.
      • And there's a whole debate about whether the prejudice against outsiders is really racism or not.
    • If you go to Average Wizard or hang out on a fan forum, you can always find a certain number of people who think that the Unforgivable Curses would be fun to use and/or want or have had the Dark Mark tattooed on their bodies.
    • Since J. K. Rowling's admission that a Muggle with a shotgun will generally beat a wizard, there is a large part of the fandom who have claimed that Harry and Co. should've just sniped Voldemort.
    • The latter part of the series actually condemns "The Boy Who Lived" treatment Harry got. Doesn't stop fans from writing self-insert fics in which their character becomes the chosen one.
    • Then there are the fans who completely missed Hermione's lecture in Prisoner Of Azkaban about the consequences of meddling with time, instead choosing to write fanfics where Harry just goes back in time and stops Voldemort from killing his parents.
  • Cruella de Vil in both The Hundred and One Dalmatians and the Disney adaptations of 101 Dalmatians is often seen as being symbolic of Pretty in Mink instead of Fur and Loathing.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had a note from Mark Twain's note at the beginning which strongly disavowed didactic attempts to explain the story. It's used for exactly that purpose in many literature courses.
  • The Hunger Games was made into a strategy board game, which successfully takes the event Collins has spent three books showing as horrible, life destroying, and a sign of just how evil humanity can be, and makes it a fun game for 2-6 players. Some fans are ecstatic. College Humor parodies this here.
    • There are rumors of a video game coming out to coincide with the movie adaptation. Let's just point out that a video game about children killing children may not be received well in certain circles and leave it at that.
    • Many fans, like the Capitol crowd, were completely star-struck by the love triangles, intense action sequences and pretty costumes, to the point where wanting to be a tribute became the new "wanting to attend Hogwarts". The final book didn't go over too well with these people.
      • In addition, a lot of fanfiction involves sending OCs to the Hunger Games, and it's treated like a fun game rather than a dehumanizing death-match. Oddly, few of them ever get the real violence; they usually just hang around making OC's, reaping, and maybe chariots/interview scenes.
  • Dante's Inferno: Paolo and Francesca have been under quite a bit of Misaimed Fandom from literary commentators, who often assume that they're being unfairly punished when, in fact, their dialogue indicates that their relationship was based on lust rather than love and that any love Francesca had for Paolo is gone, replaced by bitterness that he caused her to go to hell. The Pilgrim faints out of pity for the two, but it's implied that over time, he learns to stop feeling sorry for the sinners.
    • There are also people who feel sorry for Count Ugolino. To be fair, in some translations it is not obvious that he killed and ate his children.
  • The Iron Dream, an Alternate History novel by Norman Spinrad, presents itself as a work of literary criticism about a fantasy novel — "Lord of the Swastika" — written by a version of Adolf Hitler who left Germany in 1919. Norman Spinrad's intent was to portray the similarities between fantasy tropes (such as Always Chaotic Evil) and the beliefs that facilitated many Real Life horrors. Ironically, the American Nazi Party put the book on its recommended reading list despite the satirical intent of the work. In Spinrad's own words:
    To make damn sure that even the historically naive and entirely un-self-aware reader got the point, I appended a phony critical analysis of Lord of the Swastika, in which the psychopathology of Hitler's saga was spelled out by a tendentious pedant in words of one syllable.
    Almost everyone got the point...
  • Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" was intended as a parody as how not to write a poem, and also to make fun of pretentious poetry. Now, however, it is used for serious study among scholars, the exact people it was making fun of.
    • Actually, given that the specific philosophy/analysis he was lampooning was reductionism, which is only one philosophy it is possible to hold.
    • When he first wrote down the first stanza of the poem, he entitled it a Fragment of Anglo-Saxon poetry, lampooning the fashion for things Anglo-Saxon of his day.
    • There's also Alice in Wonderland, which was just a silly story he wrote to amuse Alice Liddell and eventually expanded to include jokes on logic and mathematics. Most people today simply assume that it's all about drugs and sex and don't realize that it's satire as well as following dream logic.
  • Many people will use the idea of being a Jekyll & Hyde as an excuse for either their own bad behavior or that of their loved ones: "The real me (Jekyll) would never do such a thing, it was this alien force (Hyde) that took over my body and made me do it." This arguably inverts the moral of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where Jekyll deliberately uses the "Hyde" persona as an outlet for his own worst urges because no one can recognize him as Hyde and he enjoys being able to be evil without any chance of being recognized or blamed. Ultimately Jekyll's refusal to take responsibility for Hyde's actions was a big part of what caused things to go badly.
  • The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair as a socialist piece to show the plight of industrial workers. But, due to Sinclair's disturbingly graphic descriptions of what was going into the nation's meat, the government stepped in and created the FDA and passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, which requires ingredient listings on all foodstuffs. Sinclair commented on this in later years:
    "I aimed for the public's heart, and by mistake, I hit the public's stomach."
    • It goes beyond that; Sinclair actually opposed the Pure Food and Drug Act, as it shifted the cost of food inspection onto the federal government and away from the meat packing industry.
  • Lancelot Lives is an article about how to set proper boundaries in relationships with women, not give in to lust and up hold the sanctity of marriage. Because, as we all know, Lancelot is a perfect example of those particular virtues.
  • Les Misérables has Montparnasse, a charming, attractive, sweet-talking petty criminal who, in-canon, is a cold-blooded murderer described as "the dandy of the sepulcher". He's more than willing to kill for fun, and is perfectly fine with using Éponine for sex while making no effort to actually better her life. Fans, however, interpret him as a dark antihero who only does bad things to survive and cares deeply for Éponine. One could chalk it up to Hugo's tendency to make every character memorable.
    • The musical makes it worse, with the Thénardiers largely reduced to comic relief status instead of the truly vile criminals they are in the novel. Azelma and her father's voyage to America to become slavers is left out, as well as the abandonment of Gavroche and the other sons by Madame Thénardier. This has lead to some fans insisting that they weren't that bad, even though they have no qualms about abusing Cosette or extorting money from Fantine.
  • Louisa May Alcott of Little Women was... not happy with a good part of the feedback she got in regards to her books about the March sisters. She was so specially unhappy with hundreds of girls being so focused on shipping and asking her when would she write about Jo and Laurie's wedding, that she showed NO mercy in regards to the Ship Sinking in Good Wives. Instead of giving in to fan demand, she had Jo reject Laurie's love declarations at least twice, leave her home, marry her beta-reader Friederich Bhaer instead of Laurie — and Laurie himself fell for Jo's younger sister Amy and they got Happily Married too.
    LMA: "Girls write to ask who the Little Women will marry, as if that were the only aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone."
  • Lolita has a tendency to attract its own fandom that believes in the righteousness of Humbert Humbert and Dolores Haze's relationship, or think that Dolores seduced Humbert - both ignoring Nabokov's intention to cast Humbert as an Unreliable Narrator. On the flip side, because the minority of the fandom who didn't get it are louder than the reticent majority that enjoyed and understood the novel, those who have never read the book may dismiss it as literary child pornography, which makes two groups of people missing the point.
    • There seems to be a disturbing number of readers who admire a rather different Lolita to the one found in the novel - a sassy, sexually precocious teenager who gets to wear lots of cool '50s vintage clothes and spends her time on romantic hobbies such as eating lollipops, sunbathing and crushing on older men. The character in the book is pretty much an average fourteen year old girl who ends up orphaned, raped and kidnapped. It's incredibly sad and disturbing - especially since Humbert convinces her that if she goes to the police, she'll be in as much trouble as him. Definitely not someone to aspire to, no matter how much you like saddle shoes and Jeremy Irons.
  • The Black Speech from The Lord of the Rings has quite a fanbase for how deliciously evil it sounds. Tolkien, however, designed the Black Speech to be as ugly and hateful as he could possibly design a language. At one point, a fan gave Tolkien a goblet with a copy of the One Ring inscription on it; rather than drink from something bearing such evil words, Tolkien simply used the goblet as an ashtray.
    • The Lord Of The Rings has many neo-Nazi fans who view the "good races" as white and the "evil races" as non-white. In reality, Tolkien opposed racial segregation in South Africa, opposed Nazism, and had many Jewish friends, and had one of his most singularly awesome moments when he tore a new one into the Nazis more or less to their faces.
  • Many readers of Mansfield Park agree with Edmund that Mary Crawford is a sassy, lively, witty, attractive girl... but unlike Edmund, ignore the emerging signs of her disrespect for him, her completely unreasonable expectation that he will change his life path and career choice based on her wishes if he loves her, and her value of money over love that extends to wishing his older ill brother dead. Likewise, the quiet, stoic, obedient Fanny Price finally shows her inner strength, resolve, and independence when she refuses to marry her Stalker with a Crush, yet most of her readers only remember her as the pre-Character Development Extreme Doormat. To say nothing of the shippers who think she should have accepted him. It seems readers still only judge both women based on what they initially appear on the surface before the novel digs deeper, despite the danger of first impressions as a running theme in Jane Austen.
    • Joan Aiken's sequel Return to Mansfield even brings back the Crawfords and gives them a more sympathetic development
    • In all fairness, Austen herself did say that it was entirely possible that Fanny and Henry could have ended up Happily Married, which would have led to Edmund and Mary getting married and being happy together as well. Even so, Austen also said that such an ending only would have happened after time had passed and Henry had reformed himself due to Fanny's influence. At the point the book ended at, Fanny and Edmund would not have been happy with Henry or Mary.
  • "Mending Wall", with its refrain of "Good fences make good neighbors." This is what the narrator's neighbor says and is the most remembered line. The narrator himself does not believe that the wall he and his neighbor are putting so much effort into mending is worth the trouble, since it isn't protecting anything.
    • Furthermore, the poem isn't exactly about your neighbors next door with the dog that barks all night. It's not so much of a white-picket-fence wall - more of a Mr.Khrushchev-tear-down-this wall.
      • Considering that the wall in question is mentioned as routinely violated by hunters and other trespassers, this interpretation is somewhat exagerated.
    • Frost exclaims his view point on this in the first two lines as a kind of riddle: what is it that "that doesn't love a wall,/That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it..."? The answer is "frost".
    • But Frost is displaying a bit of his own obtuseness here. He doesn't grasp that, by settling the question of "Whose property is this?", fences do make good neighbors.
  • Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy is viewed by many feminists as a role model because she goes out of her way to beat up misogynistic pigs.... ignoring the fact that it is made explicitly clear that not only is Lisbeth a violent person who repeatedly goes above the law to achieve her own ends, she's not portrayed as a feminist in the books, as she is supposed to be a stand in for anyone who are subjected to violence and being taken advantage of. (Men included.) She also doesn't fit into any kind of social classification, including feminism, which was another point of her character.
    • However, others do not hold the view that to be a "feminist", one can only be a woman and can only fight for women.
    • Not to mention, if Lisbeth was explicitely said to be a feminist... wouldn't the aforementioned "going out of the way to beat up misogynistic pigs" "confirm" the (untrue) belief that "all feminists are man haters"? If it did, it could go straight into Unfortunate Implications since that's one of the ugliest stereotypes about feminism as a whole.
  • Missionaries trilogy by Lyubov and Yevgeny Lukin. "Missionaries of rocket launchers" being clearly intended as a big He Who Fights Monsters view, Lukin noted that the Islanders civilization got an excess of fan approval. Some readers obviously are as "fed up" as the wannabe heroes. But the main reason is that locals, however messed up with their utterly pointless war and low-industrial waste, are mostly Blood Knight type: enthusiastic, but neither hypocritical about it nor too trigger-happy, and despite paranoia in best Cold War style already setting in, still quite serious about war conventions — ships about to drift into a demilitarized zone get blown up by their own crew or if already a pyre, sunk by their own assault planes. Compared to both typical "explorers" of The Dung Ages they briefly met and XX century politicians eager to battle for a "good cause" as long as they personally are out of range — they get to look healthy and refreshing.
  • Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki (written back in the 1920s) was supposed to be a criticism of Western influences against Japanese tradition. Many women who read it began to emulate the main female character (becoming independent, fashionable, and non-traditional, like the Flappers of the era) instead of understanding the author's intent.
  • 1984: A lot of people who are politically on the right cite George Orwell's classic as an argument against leftist social programs that are creating what they perceive as a "nanny state". This is ignoring that George Orwell was an outspoken democratic socialist, and that 1984 was written to criticize totalitarianism (specifically Stalinism) and trends toward it among certain segments of the left - not liberalism in general, which Orwell viewed as not leftist enough. Orwell may have agreed with them to an extent on politically correct language, though, since he was a strong proponent of clarity of speech. Orwell himself directly refuted claims that he was entirely anti-socialist in his own writings.
    • Indeed, Orwell himself said on more than one occasion that he aimed to end the 'myth' that Soviet Russia was a socialist country, as he viewed that association as extremely damaging to the socialist movement for precisely this reason.
    • O'Brien in 1984 actually lampshades this to a degree; when he and Winston are in Room 101, he openly rejects several key components of Marxist theory, such as the idea that the workers will revolt, the idea of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and the idea of abolishing class altogether.
    • Another common misunderstanding of 1984 is that it was genuinely Orwell's prediction of the future and what he thought the world would look like by that date. For this reason, many claim that the book is "no longer relevant". It is in fact partly a laying-out of Orwell's issues vis-a-vis much of the then-contemporary Left, partly a study of totalitarianism and partly a satire (things like the man talking in "duckspeak" are Orwell taking a jokey swipe at opinionated dinner-party bores who would regurgitating newspaper columns and the like as their own opinions - something that is fairly timeless).
  • In Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens seems to have considered The Artful Dodger as much a villain and scoundrel as any other character. However, his name is almost synonymous with an Anti-Hero, so much so that he is the Trope Namer for a fully heroic archetype.
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: Partially because of the greater popularity and fame of the film adaptation, which boiled down the story into being a battle exclusively between Randle McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, a number of people argued about Ratched and McMurphy as characters. Kesey even pointed out that having a hatedom for Ratched herself (and debating a possible backstory to round out the character) was pointless. She is just supposed to be representative of the kind of repressive, conformist society bent on "fixing" people that would create a person like her in the first place and put her in a position of power.
  • John Milton's Paradise Lost has Satan as its protagonist, but not its hero. Many readers actually sympathized with Satan, leading to William Blake famously saying that Milton was "of the devil's party without knowing it."
    • Ever since Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin forty years ago, the popular academic argument is that Milton was subverting this trope. Under this theory, the reader is supposed to sympathize with Satan early on, and then be surprised to find out later in the poem that Satan really is evil and was lying all along. In a way, then, the reader symbolically re-enacts the Fall, and is forced to accept that they, too, have evil in them. Having his readers regularly continue to support Satan throughout was entirely unintentional. Unfortunately, hardly anyone reads past the first book. Most readers take the ironic prologue as the ending.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy from are often cited as the quintessential Belligerent Sexual Tension couple — passionate dislike is just a mask for passionate love. But Elizabeth herself tells her first suitor Mr. Collins (whom she legitimately cannot stand) that this is a ridiculous notion and sometimes, No means No; not every girl who claims to dislike a man is in denial (otherwise, she may just as well have feelings for Mr. Collins!). A paragraph comparing Elizabeth's changing feelings for Wickham and Darcy clearly shows that the initial conflict between the Official Couple was just supposed to show how feelings can evolve in the real world as opposed to the Fairy Tale Love at First Sight. Dislike can evolve into love; nowhere does anyone imply dislike automatically equals love... except Mr. Collins.
    • A relationship guide, Dating Mr. Darcy: A Girl's guide to Sensible Romance, missed that the whole point of Pride and Prejudice is that both Elizabeth and Darcy have to re-examine themselves and change in order to be better people, and better for each other. Instead, you get this gem of a book description:
      Any girl who has seen Pride and Prejudice or read the Jane Austen novel knows that the much misunderstood Mr. Darcy is the ideal gentleman. But is it possible to find your own Mr. Darcy in today's world of geeks and goons?...Best-selling author Sarah Arthur equips young women to gauge a guy's Darcy Potential (DP) according to his relationships with family, friends, and God.
    • Far from being the perfect, misunderstood romantic ideal his fangirls tend to swoon over him as being, Mr. Darcy himself admits to Elizabeth that a significant part of her earlier dislike and condemnation of him was entirely justified, that he actually was a disdainful snob (albeit to not quite the extent Elizabeth had presupposed), and that he genuinely did have to work at taking her criticisms on board and improving his character in order to earn her affection.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Reportedly, a British Secretary of State for Education once told Muriel Spark they greatly admired the title character. Since Miss Brodie was a Sadist Teacher who encouraged one of her favourites to fight for the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, Mrs. Spark looked somewhat horrified at the notion.
  • Machiavelli's The Prince is sneered at for setting up the ideal monarch as a tyrant. In reality, The Prince was probably satirical - Machiavelli had been jailed previous to writing it for writing liberal essays that the current monarchs disagreed with and were threatened by.
    • It's also important to note the condition of Italy at the time, which was not so much a country as a bunch of feuding city states. While Machiavelli likely supported more liberal forms of government, it is also likely that in this instance, he considered a strong central ruler to be necessary for Italy to get its shit together and avoid being invaded.
  • "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is widely considered a celebration of independence. But Frost, a diehard misanthrope, intended it as a bitterly ironic satire of people who delusionally fancy themselves individualists. Consider that the two roads are "just as fair[;] the passing... had worn them really about the same". "I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence" does not describe laudable independence: it portrays self-obsessed, melodramatic braggadocio dredged up again and again over the course of a boring life. See more here.
  • The Secret History's central character, Henry Winter, has had fans gushing about how 'perfect' he is and how he's ideal boyfriend material. We're talking about a man who organises a bacchanal and accidentally kills someone, murders one of his friends, and was planning to kill another of his friends before he decides to commit suicide.
    • TSH in general has a case of this — fittingly, in some ways, given Richard's desire for the picturesque at all costs.
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles: There are some people out there who think that Tess should have ended up with Alec, only because he wants her as a mistress after Angel leaves her. Disregarding the Rape Is Love vibe from this pairing, it is completely out of character for Tess, who never liked him romantically before, and despises him when she is his mistress, only taking the position to support her family.
  • Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea gets a lot of this, both regular Draco in Leather Pants because of his Affably Evil and Wicked Cultured tendencies and sympathetic backstory and people who wish they could have his awesome submarine and other cool technology.
    • In Return To Mysterious Island, a video game roughly based off Leagues, Nemo is actually a purely benevolent character. Ascended Fanon?
  • Warrior Cats: The Rise of Scourge manga produced a lot of this from the fandom. Because of Scourge's backstory, a large portion of fans believe that he is not evil, some even going far enough to blame everything he did on random other characters. Of course, this interpretation completely ignores the author's belief that no one is born evil, and that everyone has a reason for their actions, but that these reasons are in no way an excuse. In fact, in the author's note at the beginning of the very same book, she says his actions were inexcusable, and that she wasn't trying to make excuses, also saying that "If ever a character were purely bad, Scourge is it."
    • Ashfur is a Base Breaker in general, and Word of God states that this was intentional. As always, though, there's a minority of Ashfur fans who claim that he was justified in trying to murder Squirrelflight's father and children to make her feel the same pain he had. It doesn't matter that he's killing innocent cats to get his revenge, because Squirrelflight was mean to him!
    • Most people who hate Sol either hate him because he's "stupid" (which he clearly isn't) or because he's trying to get get the Clans to stop following StarClan. He does take this too far, but most people seem to be more against the fact that he doesn't like StarClan than his methods (Some also claim that he doesn't believe in StarClan which, though not a very egregious error, is still incorrect). They make it seem like StarClan is the most important thing ever, and their word should be followed rigidly, which means that most of them are completely forgetting that StarClan themselves have been telling us for the longest time that they do not hold all the answers, and that the cats are essentially masters of their own destinies. They essentially only exist to watch over them and give out warnings.
    • Also, the Warrior Code, though very important, does not represent universal moral standards (You would think that Hollyleaf's Face-Heel Turn would bring this into perspective, but no, no it apparently hasn't).
      • On a similar note, there is also the entirety of SkyClan's Destiny. The most popular reaction to the book is disgust towards/complaining about the travesty that is the Daylight Warriors. People regularly cite the Warrior Code as a reason for why the Daylight Warriors are horrible, both ignoring way the books constantly show that the Warrior Code isn't right, or that the entire point of the book was to demonstrate that SkyClan doesn't need to follow the other Clans' examples, and are free to welcome the Daylight Warriors if it is in their best interests.
  • "The White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling is a case of Misaimed Fandom and Misaimed Hatedom. This point-missing is aggravated by the prints forgetting its "dedication" line. That's like forgetting to supply dynamite with a detonator, because this was "An Address to the United States" published on the heels of the Philippine War. If you don't see the trouble yet, read Mark Twain's articles about it. Or imagine that Joseph Heller with his reputation lived to 2006, and dropped in a big conference with "DRM and laws" in the middle of its order paper... to read his new poem with "Sony Rootkit" in the dedication and "I think Microsoft is pretty cool" in the text. Some could take it seriously, more as vicious irony, some like, some not — but no chance this would not provoke an untold riot then and there. The author of Stalky and Pig should have know what he did was trolleriffic. But just in case it wasn't enough, he also did publically "bequeath" The British Empire's role to the people looking for contrasts with it and still remembering The American Revolution.
  • Parodied in THIS Harry Potter fanart. Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort's Dragon and Dark Chick of Death Eaters, becomes a fan of Twilight.

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