Literature Love: Who are your favorite characters?


For Literature lovers, the characters of a book are much more than just words on a page. They become real, and you find yourself furnishing them with thoughts, idea, histories and pasts beyond what the author has provided. You yell at them when they do something stupid, you cry with them when they experience tragedy, and you walk with them through their adventures.

I’ve been (re)reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it occurred to me just how much I love the character of Samwise Gamgee. He is loyal and strong, even though he doesn’t realize his own bravery. Upon first reading, some may think he falls Frodo like a lost puppy, but Tolkien had much bigger plans for this little hobbit, and as you read on his character is truly revealed. The valiant Samwise that we all were rooting for (or at least I was) is revealed and put to the test–over and over. He is not without flaws and along the way he makes his fair share of mistakes. Nor is he the brightest bulb in the Shire, but his dedication always shines through.

Looking back, there have been many literary characters whose attributes I have admired and enjoyed. I once wrote an essay for entrance into my college’s Honor’s Program on Atticus Finch, a man whose actions were heard and felt throughout the country. He is another one of those characters who we could spend hours praising his accomplishments.

But my choice in favorites isn’t based solely on the positive attributes of a character. After all, there are some villains you just love to hate. My favorite characters are those that make me stop and think, that hold my attention long after I’ve laid the book down. I love the characters who make me care– about them, about the story, about another character even. Or sometimes, my favorites are simply those that make me smile.

Here’s a brief list of some more of my favorites:

1. Emma Woodhouse from Emma

My dad once told me I reminded him of Emma Woodhouse. Wheither or not this was a compliment, I’ve yet to decide. But nevertheless, I absolutely adore Emma. She fails to see what is right before her, being too caught up in daydreaming and scheming. But her heart and mind are always on others, be it her overly anxious father or less fortunate friends. She makes mistakes, as do all of us, but she realizes these faults and tries to make amends. Jane Austen gave her the perfect amount of wit, with just a dash of ignorance.

 

2. Sherlock Holmes

I’m a bit of a Sherlockian, and I can’t help but absolutely love this character. While Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock’s creator, may not have been the biggest fan of his creation, years of audiences have begged to differ. He is such a complex character, with much of his history left unknown (not that succeeding authors haven’t tried to fill in these blanks), and not much is even known about his feelings in the time of the stories. He keeps to himself, busying himself with odd hobbies, and applying his mastery skills of deduction to just about any seemingly unsolvable crime. There is so much to him, even inconsistencies that are primarily due to Doyle’s fading interest in his biggest success, but fans like myself have come up with our own hypothesise to cover these irregularities. Holmes has become more than a literary character, he has evolved into a universally identifiable persona. In fact, you wouldn’t believe the number of people who think he was a real person (well, he is to some of us).

 

3. Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man

What’s not to love about this silly, constantly inebriated duo? They are fun and funny, and just plain adorable. Set within Dashiell Hammet’s noir novella, they are a perfect contrast to the dark events, without taking away from the suspense or drama. Oh, and their dog Asta is pretty swell as well. They make me smile, and thus are some of my favorites.

 

 

So who are your favorite characters? Now that I’ve rambled on about mine, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions.

 

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4 Comments

  1. 1. Cyrano de Bergerac 2. Meg Murray (Wrinkle in Time) 3. Paul Mua’dib Atreides (Dune) 4. Richard and Kahlan Rahl (Sword of Truth) 5. Scarlet O’Hara 6. Hazel-Rah (Watership Down) and 7. Iago (greatest villain of all time).

    • I completely agree with Meg Murray. I loved those books, and she was always a favorite of mine. Also, Iago is the perfect example of the villain you hate so much that you like them. He’s so complex, and his motivations are so ambiguous, they make for a great debate. Good characters should encourage discussion, as Iago surely does.

  2. I can agree with Sam from LotR, he’s always been wonderful. This one is a bit odd because he wasn’t the main character of the story, but Fermin Romero de Torres from The Shadow of the Wind (by Carlos Ruiz Zafon) is a wonderful character who had some fantastic lines throughout the book. I’m reading through the Harry Potter books right now and there are several characters I’m enjoying in those books. Obviously you’re made to like Harry quite a bit and Dumbledore is wonderful as well, but I’ve also enjoyed Hermione’s character throughout the books. One of the strongest characters I’ve read in books in recent years is John Cleaver from Dan Wells trilogy (I am not a Serial Killer, Mister Monster, I Don’t Want to Kill You). Cleaver goes through 3 distinct growth arcs over the course of the 3 novels (which is not always done very well) and he is fascinating even when you are cringing about what he is about to do, wonderful books.

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