Literary Allusions in Gilmore Girls: Part 2

This is the second installment of literary allusions in Gilmore Girls (the first installment can be located here). I chose the allusions that I found most interesting.
Black, White, & Read Books blog was used as a loose reference in compiling this list of literary allusions made throughout Gilmore Girls.

Season One (Continued)

episode 5
1. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Valley of the Dolls

To set the scene: Lerelai’s neighbor, Babette, is going through the medicine cabinet full of all the medicine for her now deceased cat.

Lorelai: It’s like a scene from a kitty version of Valley of the Dolls.

This novel is about three women that pop any pills they can get their hands on. This reference emphasizes just how many different medications the cat was on.

Episode Six
2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Age of Innocence

To set the scene: Lorelai and Rory show up at Richard and Emily’s house for the birthday party they are throwing Rory.

Emily: Well I wanted everything to be perfect. What do you think?
Lorelai: I think Edith Wharton would have been proud and busy taking notes.

This book is about an upper-class couple in 19th century America. Wharton was known largely for her particular attention to detail. Lorelai’s comment alludes to the fact that everything is in order and perfect. Emily has her maids running around, making sure all the candles are exactly six inches apart and paying attention to other minutiae. Much like Wharton, Emily’s own attention to detail is so precise, which shows that she is a member of the upper class.

Episode Seven
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote

To set the scene: Lorelai learned of Rory’s first kiss and is upset, mostly because Rory still hasn’t told her about it. Lorelai is spying on the guy who kissed her when Luke finds her.

Luke: Ok, we need to get you out of here.
Lorelai: No. That Lothario over there has wormed his way into my daughter’s heart and mouth, and for that he must die!
Luke: That’s it. Let’s go.
Lorelai: No.
Luke: You’re not going to kill the bag boy.
Lorelai: Why not?
Luke: It’s double coupon day. You’ll bring down the town.

Yes, only the first two lines of dialogue are important, but the rest are hilarious, so I included them for your pleasure. Lothario is a character in one of the stories within Don Quixote who is known to be a womanizer. Lorelai compares Dean to Lothario because she is scared, as a mother, that the boy who is kissing her daughter is a womanizer.

Episode Nine
4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


To set the scene: Rory is talking to Dean about her school, preparing him for the people he might meet at the Chilton dance they are attending.

Rory: And these kids at my school — awful. Have you seen The Outsiders?
Dean: Yeah, I have.
Rory: Just call me Ponyboy.

[and later]

Dean: So, Ponyboy, you happy?
Rory: Yeah, I’m happy.

This is an allusion to S.E. Hinton’s protagonist in The Outsiders. Ponyboy, in a school full of “socs” (short for “social”), fits in with the group known as the “greasers.” Rory is referring to the fact that she’s like a greaser, living on the outside, in a world of “socs,” rich kids with their parents’ money and attitudes.

Episode Eleven
5. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Swanns Way

To set the scene: Lorelai is hanging out with her beau, Max, and she is admiring his bookshelves. One book in particular stands out to her.

Lorelai: (turns around to look at his books) Wow, these are beautiful! Hm, I never read Proust; I always wanted to. Every now and then, I’m seized with an overwhelming urge to say something like “As Marcel Proust would say,” but of course, I have no idea what Marcel Proust would say, so I don’t even go there. I could do, uh, “As Micheal Crichton would say…,” but it’s not exactly the same, you know.
Max: Well, take it.

[and later]

Rory: So how’s Swann’s Way coming?
Lorelai: Oh, finished.
Rory: You’re kidding! It took me forever to read that. I had to renew it 10 times.
Lorelai: The first sentence – I finished the first sentence.
Rory: Aha.

I have never read Swann’s Way, nor do I know much about the content itself. But I have heard, quite frequently, that it is a very difficult book to read. This episode that the book appears in is very important in terms of Lorelai and Max’s relationship. Lorelai wants to break up with Max (which is just what she does after being in a relationship for two months), and she is having a very hard time doing so. At first, she starts by just avoiding him, and then she tries to get Rory to return the book to Max for her. When Rory will not give the book back, Lorelai tries to give the book back herself as a sign that she is done with the relationship (giving him back his stuff). And, of course, there is the fact that Lorelai and Max start making out when he isn’t accepting the break up because he knows she’s only trying to end it because she’s afraid of getting hurt now that she’s really starting to like him, adding to the complications of the already really hard break up. While it is not exactly a definite reason, I do feel like the difficulty of this book is symbolic of Lorelai’s difficulty in breaking up with Max.

7. Michael Crichton


(see above reference)

When Lorelai is trying to talk about her desire to sound sophisticated in conversation by casually bringing up Proust, she explains that she is unable to do so, but she would be able to bring up Crichton, which does not have the same impact at all. Proust is a classic; Crichton is the author of Jurassic Park.

Episode Thirteen
7. Carrie by Stephen King


To set the scene: Rory has to do a school assignment with Paris, Louise, and Madeline, the three girls she hasn’t been getting along with. Lorelai hints at the fact that things look like they are going well with them.

Lorelai: Well, I think you’re actually making some friends here.
Rory: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They’ve basically just moved off the plan to dump the pig’s blood on me at the prom; that’s all.

In Carrie, the main girl isn’t liked by the rest of her classmates; they all think she is weird. They make a plan to humiliate her in front of the entire school. Rory is telling her mom that, while she and the girls seem to be getting along right now, they still aren’t friends just yet either.

Episode Sixteen
8. The Mourning Bride by William Cosgrove

Mourning Bride

To set the scene: Paris is trying to get to her locker, but Tristan, whom she has an obvious crush on, is making out with his girlfriend in front of it. Madeline and Louise are going on about how if you have a boyfriend as hot as Tristan, you make out with him anywhere you can.

Paris: Thank you for the “where to make out” list, I just need to get my books.
Louise: Hell hath no fury.

The entire quote from Cosgrove’s play reads as “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” but it is commonly paraphrased as “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Louise understands Paris’ true frustration over the situation: it’s not about not being able to get to her books; it’s about the fact that Tristan is dating a girl that isn’t her, and they’re making out right in front of her face.

 9. Elizabeth Barrett Browning


To set the scene: Before walking away from Rory and Paris, Tristan is going on about being young and in love.

Paris: What a shame Elizabeth Barrett Browning wasn’t here to witness this. She’d put her head through a wall.

Paris is clearly still showing her annoyance at the whole situation. She references this mid 1800s poet that is known for writing on political and social topics for the duration of her career. Perhaps Paris chooses to mention her because, for the most part it seems, she tended to avoid poems on topics such as love.

10. The Witch Tree Symbol by Carolyn Keene

Witch Tree Symbol

To set the scene: Rory comes home sans boyfriend after what was supposed to be a romantic evening with him, and Lorelai is trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Rory: What happened here is we broke up. He didn’t want to be my boyfriend anymore, end of story.
Lorelai: That is so not end of story.
Rory: Yes, it is.
Lorelai: Honey, he did not plan an entire romantic evening complete with dinner and a junkyard, which we’ll get back to later, and then suddenly decide to dump you for no reason.
Rory: How do you know? [as she pulls out a box from her closet.]
Lorelai: Because I have read every Nancy Drew mystery ever written. The one about the Amish country, twice. I know there’s more to the story than what you’re telling me. What are you doing?

In The Witch Tree Symbol, like all other Nancy Drew books, things are not as they seem. There is more to the town than meets the eye. Just like this story, Lorelai knows that there is more to Rory and Dean’s break-up than what she is telling her mother and that Dean did not just break up with her because he stopped wanting to be her boyfriend out of nowhere.

this post was written by samantha miller.

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