The Literary Influences found in Taylor Swift’s Songs

Taylor Swift is an avid reader—at least that is what her many literary references suggest. Swift is adept at creating her own characters in her songwriting, but she isn’t afraid to borrow aspects from other authors as well. From F. Scott Fitzgerald to William Shakespeare, Swift loves some classic literature. Find evidence of that fact, below.

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1. “Love Story” – Romeo and Juliet

First up, we have the most obvious allusion to literature in Swift’s songwriting, “Love Story.” The track makes blatant references to Romeo and Juliet and the titular star-crossed lovers. Just like William Shakespeare’s tale, Swift’s father forbids her love. She turns the story on its head with the final chorus, wherein the lovers finally get their happy ending.

2. “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and “happiness” – The Great Gatsby

Both “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and “happiness” make allusions to The Great Gatsby. In the former song, Swift sings about parties that spiral out of control: There are no rules when you show up here / Bass beat rattling the chandelier / Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.

A through-line in “happiness” is its reference to Gatsby. Swift hopes her successor in a relationship will be a beautiful fool, the same thing Daisy Buchanan says of her daughter. Elsewhere her line, green light of forgiveness, is a nod to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock that Gatsby gazes at hoping to reconcile with his true love.

[RELATED: 5 Songs That Quote Classic Literature in Their Lyrics]

3. “tolerate it” – Rebecca

Though “tolerate it” is endlessly applicable to real-life scenarios, there are marked connections to Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel from 1938, Rebecca. In the work, a woman is haunted by the memory of her husband’s late first wife. Swift takes a less ghostly approach to the story and sings about a neglected woman in “tolerate it.” Instead of seeing visions of someone who is passed, Swift focuses on a story that is all too familiar in many relationships: someone becomes complacent and the other is left feeling invisible.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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