3 Literary References in Taylor Swift’s Songs
What do the novels Jane Eyre, the nice Gatsby, and Rebecca all have in common? they’re all referenced in Taylor Swift’s greenhorn albums, of course! With folklore and its sister album evermore, Taylor Swift released two records in 2020. Both releases were widely popular among fans, and a few were quick to appreciate that there are familiar references in her new songs such as ‘Nothing New’ (visit https://chordsworld.com/taylor-swift-nothing-new-chords-taylors-version/ for more info). Swift alludes to several novels, poems, and writers in her new albums, so these are just some of the literary references you would possibly have noticed.
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is my favorite book. So after I realized Taylor Swift hints at the novel multiple times, it made my literary heart happy. One of the foremost important commonalities in both albums is that the relevancy of an ‘invisible string.’ It’s seen in an exceedingly few of her new music videos, and there’s a song on folklore titled “invisible string.”
In the song, Taylor Swift says, “Isn’t it with great care pretty to think, right along there was some invisible string tying you to me?” In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester tells Jane he loves her by saying, “I have an odd feeling with respect to you. As if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly knotted to an analogous string in you.”
The references to the novel don’t end there. The song right after “invisible string” is termed “mad woman.” This song references the motif of the madwoman within the attic, which was common in Victorian literature to depict gendered madness, including in Brontë’s novel, where Mr. Rochester locks his wife within the attic and he or she is ostracized from society. The songs “invisible string” and “mad woman” being placed back-to-back highlight how being unable to regulate your reputation can cause a flawed perception, which may be the main theme in Jane Eyre.
THE GREAT GATSBY
The song “happiness” from evermore references F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel the good Gatsby. While a number of the lyrics allude to the themes within the book, others are direct references. “I hope she’ll be an exquisite fool. Who takes my spot next to you,” the lyrics parallel Daisy Buchanan’s wish for her daughter. Daisy says, “She’ll be a fool— that’s the simplest thing a woman will be during this world, a stunning little fool,” in hopes that her child is ignorant to life’s challenges. But as a criticism of ignorance, Taylor Swift uses the motif of a ‘beautiful fool.’
Later within the song, Taylor Swift says, “All I would like from me now’s the green light of forgiveness.” The green light is one of the foremost quintessential motifs within the entire novel. At the top of the book, Gatsby longingly looks at the green light across the water. “Gatsby believed within the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we’ll run faster,” Fitzgerald wrote. The sunshine symbolizes Gatsby’s love for Daisy, a symptom that’s just out of reach. This theme is present within the song “happiness” additionally.
Featured chronologically on evermore, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier was referenced by Taylor Swift in her songs “tolerate it” and “no body, no crime.” Du Maurier’s novel is about a couple of women who marries a person that she loves, but he’s still gaga together with his dead ex-wife named Rebecca. Many speculate that her whodunit song was partly based on Rebecca, although this connection has not been confirmed. Rebecca is murdered in the very same way because of the husband within the song “no body, no crime.” Taylor Swift says, “Good thing my dad made me get a boating license after I was fifteen. And I’ve cleaned enough houses to grasp a way to cover a scene.” within the book, the body is found on a sunken boat.
The themes within the song “tolerate it” alludes to Rebecca in addition. The protagonist’s marriage with Maxim de Winter is what the song depicts. She adores him and he simply tolerates her. By the lyrics, “I know my love should be celebrated. But you tolerate it,” this relationship is highlighted. While the person is “so much older and wiser,” she also makes relevancy being “just a child.” This also accurately portrays their relationship. In an interview, Swift talks about how her reaction to the current marriage inspired the song. She wrote it because it’s “all about trying to like someone who is ambivalent.”
Taylor Swift definitely succeeded in being the foremost productive during the pandemic. Not only are her new songs certified classics, but a number of them also are supported a number of the simplest works of literature. And these aren’t near all of the literary connections, just my personal favorites.