Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Favorite Literary Characters

A post about my favorite literary characters? Why not? A bit pretentious perhaps, but I'm by no means saying I'm a literature expert. I have though gotten myself through a good number of books.

A few notes:
- I have not included comic book characters, though I do consider comic books literature. They would dominate the list. Look for a favorite comic book character list in the upcoming weeks. Epic.
- Obviously, characters are only from books I read. I will try not to be influenced by movie versions of books, but sometimes it is hard to separate the two.
- This a truly a list of my favorites, not necessary the "best" literature characters. You will see that I tend to move away from the lead protagonist and move more toward upper supporting characters.
- There will be a large honorable mention. I don't think it is a good idea to have too many favorites of anything.

Honorable Mention:
Dr. Larch - The Cider House Rules - Hard to put an abortionist on the list, but he is a quality character, a quality contrast of character, Very close to making the real list.
Germanicus - I, Claudius
Adah - The Poisonwood Bible - By far the best narrator of the bunch
Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby - I kind of feel like this everyman quality draws in the reader. You could see yourself as him being introduced to this opulent culture and wanting to be part of it.
D-503 - We - The first dystopian novel. Check it out.
Grand Admiral Thrawn - Star Wars Novels (Thrawn Trilogy) - makes you almost root for the Empire. Super dorky to read, but super enjoyable.
Talon Karrade - Star Wars Novels (Thrawn Trilogy) - another Star Wars character created by Timothy Zahn. Complex character.
Sam Spade - The Maltese Falcon
Jack Burden - All the King's Men - similar to Nick Carraway
Chief - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Randle Patrick McMurphy - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Very Close to making the real list.
Luna Lovegood - Harry Potter


Regulus Black -Harry Potter Books- Ok, so I won't be ranking this list, but it is a top 5, and RAB is 5th, and could easily drop down into honorable mention if someone better catches my fancy. The other 4 will always be on my list, no doubt.
That being said, awesome character. Super unique in depiction. He never appeared in the entire Harry Potter series, not even in flashbacks. He was only talked about my other characters. It is wild how intriguing this made him, how this made you focus on all the small mentions of him. This is a great story too, a story of redemption, a story of realizing you are on the wrong side and trying to change that. Nicely done RAB and JKR.

Atticus Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird

You can already see my two favorite character types by these picks. The first, RAB and even moreso the third person on the list, is about the journey - a change in outlook, person, relationships, and well, character. The second seen by Atticus Finch is the person who does not change, the person who sticks to their beliefs, their morals, their core no matter what. In fact they stay true even when it would be easier and sometimes beneficial to change or bend or falter a little. But these men will not break, will not back down, will not change for anybody. Their core is true and unchanging.
Atticus Finch is a perfect example of this, pretty much everything that is good about America, humanity, and literature. I do not hesitate to use the picture of of Gregory Peck as Atticus. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch. Perfect casting, perfect depiction.

Larry Underwood - The Stand -
Yes, the perfect example of the inward journey. King matches it for Underwood with a real physical trek as well, with bridges and tunnels and wrong turns and roadblocks, but in the end, the destination is reached.
I love every step of Larry's journey - from California to the time with his mother to Central Park to the Lincoln Tunnel to his time with Nadine to his time in Boulder to Vegas leading the way. He just seems so real even in the face of the incredible crisis. He reacts like a human. The circumstances change him. He sometimes fights those changes. He sometimes thinks those changes are fictional. He questions his growth, his choices, his place in this whole, epic mess.
In the end, I'm glad to have shared the journey with Larry.

Major Scobie - The Heart of the MatterThis is the same cover to the book that I read, except mine didn't have that stupid quote.
Scobie is somewhere in-between the character types that I mentioned. He is definitely true to his ways, no matter how wrong they might be. There is definitely a journey, an inward journey.
Scobie is the best example I can think of of the flesh vs spirit conflict. That is in a sense the same battle that Larry and Regulus faced, but it is oh so exemplified here. Which one wins? Both? Neither? Selfless to a fault, but still everyone loses. Interesting.

Fingolfin - The Silmarillion

If I ever get a pet it will undoubtedly be named Fingolfin.
Honor. Valor. Bravery. Courage. These words and their ilk perfectly describe Fingolfin, the only Tolkein character on the list surprisingly. The Silmarillion is much different than LOTR. I like it better in fact. You get a lot of characters, a lot of history, and a lot of mythology. The story is complex, but to summarize, Fingolfin stands by his brother after he does something pretty, pretty horrible. His brother then turns his back on Fingolfin, leaves him for dead, but Fingolfin leads his people through some super harsh Middle Earth conditions. Things continue to be pretty shitty for them because of Morgoth, who is like Sauron times 10. Morgoth = Batman. Sauron = Robin. There are attempted battles, but nothing good happens. Fingolfin finally has enough and goes to take on Morgoth single handedly! It's David and Goliath, but Fingolfin is no David. The is one of the most powerful Elves ever. He was so angry and ferocious, onlookers thought him a god. Epic battle ensues. Epic. In the end, Fingolfin falls valiantly. Middle Earth goes to shit for some time, but eventually the valor of Fingolfin was remember and Morgoth was defeated.
Worthy of my pet's name? Yes.

There you go. Awesome literary characters. Complex, transforming, true, a pleasure to read over and over again.

1 comment:

Thorzul said...

Somehow I when I saw the title I knew Scobie would be on this list. I'm a little surprised that I've actually read three of the top five (Stand, Heart, Mockingbird).