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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My Lucky Dog

Yesterday I lost my best friend. He was short, furry, and walked on four legs. His name was Lucky, and he was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to me.

We first adopted Lucky when I was about 10. He was about 3.

At first he was a difficult dog. He had terrible separation anxiety and would destroy things when we were away. If put in a crate, he would break out at all expenses, often hurting himself in the process. After a chipped tooth, some scratches, and a burst blood vessel, we decided we could not keep him. He was too much work, and he was only doing harm to himself. He would be better off elsewhere. So, after a few weeks of having him, I said goodbye one morning as I headed off to school.

I don’t remember feeling particularly upset that morning, perhaps because I knew all along that my mom would never actually take him back that day. Sure enough, he was still there when I got home. We struggled through those first few months, but we soon realized that for him, it was completely worth it.

Never have I met a dog so in touch with human emotions, or so loyal, or so loving. Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and I think that each of these individuals, myself included, are exactly right. Because dogs adapt to you, as you adapt to them. We learned to deal with his anxiety, and in turn he learned to deal with our family’s ups and downs.

In actuality, his anxiety disorder fit in perfectly with our family. I, myself, have long struggled with a Panic Disorder. Many of the worst years were around the time when we first adopted Lucky. Somehow, he was able to help me during my attacks. The comfort of having him near. He would give me kisses, wag his tail, he would stay by my side. He was the perfect companion.

He was loyal to our whole family. He trusted us to do what was best, and that is why I know that we did the right thing yesterday. For months, he’d been struggling. His joints were stiff and he was losing muscle mass. Just getting off the floor became a trial. He wasn’t always sure of where he was. He would get confused, walk into corners, wander aimlessly. But, most importantly, he had stopped wagging his tail.He no longer found joy in his daily life. The look in his eyes was one of helplessness and confusion. He was waiting for us to decide what to do.

The night before we made our decision, he had multiple accidents in the house, each time falling down into his own waste because he could no longer hold himself up. We knew it was time. Perhaps past the time, but we could no longer delay the inevitable.

As my mom said, he would have soldiered on forever if we had asked him to. He would have stayed by our sides until ever joint ached and he could no longer walk. He was loyal, and loving, and miraculous.

He came with the name Lucky, but over the years I’ve realized how perfectly the title suited him. Not necessarily because he was lucky to have found us, but because we were lucky–extraordinarily lucky– to have found him.

My whole heart aches, and I’ve fallen victim to random bouts of crying these past 48 hours, but I know that what was done was for the best. I know that he loved us so completely, and he gave us 12 wonderful years of that love, that we could ask for no more.

I’ll never get over him. He was my childhood, my best friend, my family member, my constant companion, my pillow, my cuddle buddy, my soother, my therapist, my playmate, my dog.

And I was so goddamn lucky to have him.

 

 

Barbie & Ken Rekindle…online

They are the Ross and Rachel of toys. Will they or won’t they? Their indecision has plagued us for years…and the intrigue has just gotten even more compelling.

Many might recall that back in 2004, Barbie and Ken, the idyllic couple of our childhood imaginations, decided to take a bit of a romantic break. Perhaps these two ‘plastic celebrities’ decided they each wanted to spend just a bit more time on one of their numerous careers (i.e. rocket scientist, professional dancer, veterinarian). Whatever the reasoning, Mattel, Inc. split the two up.

And now, on the eve of Ken’s 50th birthday (wow, he looks good for his age– think he had some work done? plastic surgery maybe? sorry lame joke), Mattel has launched a digital marketing campaign of epic proportions in an attempt to reunite the two lovelorn dolls.

A jack-of-all-trades, Ken’s next greatest challenge is to win back his true love. Since the break up, Ken has been undergoing an image overhaul. Now he’s ready to show his new self off, and he’s using the power of social networking to do so. Consumers are encouraged to check out Ken’s profiles, as well as the hub site barbieandken.com. You can even vote in an online poll asking, “Should Barbie Take Ken Back?” Leaving no viral stone unturned, other social marketing sites being utilized include Facebook, twitter, foursquare, and YouTube. Fans can follow the love story as it unfolds, with both of the dolls actively engaging in socializing through these sites. Ken has been known to tweet anything from nostalgic memories about times with Barbie to his favorite articles in contemporary mens’ magazines.

So why the campaign, and why now? Well, besides the obvious excitement over Ken’s birth-aversary (that’s birthday and anniversary combined), the release of the latest Ken doll is also causing quite a stir. The new “Sweet Talking Ken” doll  is described as being “the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion,” praising his ability to say “whatever your want him to say!” Certainly sounds good.

Also in the works, in attempt to gain further notice, Mattel has started a web series called “Genuine Ken.” The series, hosted by Hulu,  is looking for the literal equivalent of the toy company’s newest Ken doll. The contestants all compete for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend.”

Another clever scheme is the product incorporation within the campaign. Ken be seen promoting any number of products. For instance, he uses a Macbook while browsing Google Chrome.

All in all, the concept seems pretty great. The famous dolls’ relationship spans generations, and by using the internet, the company has successfully targeted the modern youth. What do you think? And more especially, should Barbie take Ken back?

“Threads Snap”

“What of Art?” she asked.

 

“It is a malady.”

 

“Love?”

 

“And illusion.”

 

“Religion?”

 

“The fashionable substitute for Belief.”

 

“You are a sceptic.”

 

“Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.”

 

“What are you?”

 

“To define is to limit.”

 

“Give me a clue.”

 

Threads snap. You would lose your way in the labryinth.”

 

[The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. A wonderfully fascinating novella by a wonderfully fascinating man.]