Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Beloved fictional characters

Emperor Claudius

Sometimes, we come across a novel whose characters we absolutely love. Even though these fictional characters have dysfunctional personalities, there's something about them that speaks to us. Their trials, triumps, and travels become our own. In a way, we see ourselves (or part of our ourselves) in them. Here are a few of my favorite characters appearing in novels.
  • Captain Ahab of Moby Dick -- He's one crazy SOB. I guess one has to be a bit over the edge to bear a grudge against a white sperm whale. Arrrr....
  • Claudius of I, Claudius -- Despite being a cripple, a stutterer, and a political pawn, Claudius is still very lovable. Let's face it, we all love the underdog. Claudius returns in the sequel entitled Claudius, The God.
  • Maurice Bendrix of The End of the Affair -- How can I not like this man? In Greene's wonderful novel, Bendrix competes with God to win the love of Sarah Miles. Bendrix prays at the end of the novel: "O God, You've done enough. You've robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone for ever."
  • Leonard Marnham of The Innocent -- The Innocent is one of my favorite novels of Ian McEwan. There's something Hitchcock-ian to the events in The Innocent, which all close in on Leonard Marnham. (I named my two turtles Leonard and Marnie.)
  • Isabel Archer of The Portrait of a Lady -- Archer was a feminist in a time when feminism was little known.
  • Frankenstein -- I think Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is more of a philosophical rather than a horror novel. And Shelley captures the essence of one's existence in Frankenstein.
How about you, dear reader? Who are your beloved fictional characters? I'm sure there's at least one whom you can relate to.


Peter S. said...

How can I forget Grenouille of Perfume, the novel by Patrick Süskind. Such a tragic character.

sumthinblue said...

I like Grenouille too! Hey, I'm moderating the Perfume discussion in September, hope you can go there!

Top of mind, I like Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl's Matilda - I can totally relate to her love for reading

There's also Thursday Next, the heroine of Jasper Fforde's Jurisfiction books. I love her job and I love their world and she has such great sense of humor and can kick literary butts too.

sumthinblue said...

Im getting curious about those turtles of yours... We should talk pets next time :D

Peter S. said...

Hello, Blooey! Sure, I'd love to join the September FFP discussion.

Miss F said...

hahlehr. i love your choices. I didnt care much for Leonard Marnham, though I loved THE INNOCENT so much.
he's just not sensitive enough and the protagonist lady deserves someone better!

One of my top 5 all-time fave novels is THE END OF THE AFFAIR. that novel captures so much the bittersweet longing and pain of loving someone deeply. and it's perfect to read on a dark dreary rainy night in some sad cafe in the city.

Isabel Archer is totally amazing!

my fave characters? Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE for being so level-headed and cool and expressive and yet in touch with her emotions and instincts....

CLAUDINE in the Claudine novels of Collette for being sassy, spirited, spunky, gutsy, sensitive, passionate, and always true to herself, her inanities and proclivities....

the narrAtor in SANDRA CISNEROS' the House in Mango Street.... for being so real, so emotive, vibrant, brave and deep....and tender and joyous sometimes in a world that's both insane, hurtful and wonderful at the same time

the protagonist in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY by Richard Llewellyn.... for being so strong and yet weak, beautiful and daring, long-suffering and valiant, through all the hardships and joys he's been through....

and most of all that boy (the little brother of the soldier ) in THE HUMAN COMEDY BY WILLIAM SAROYAN.... for his curiosity and zest for life, and because I have seen that life's heartbreaks didn't destroy him.