We all have characters that stick with us. People we can’t forget or move past no matter how many books we read or movies we see. Here are a few of mine:
- Jean Valjean: Probably one of my favorite people ever. He rises above his jailbird past to become a successful mayor, then throws it all away to preserve his soul. Valjean is consistently forced to choose between his own desires and the welfare of everyone else. And they’re such life-and-death decisions: whether to let another take the fall for his skipping bale, whether or not to kill Javert, going out to save Marius during the battle, leaving Cozette to preserve her identity and safety–the decision which ultimately kills him. There’s just something about a person who chooses the right path no matter the threat. To me, Valjean is more super than Superman. (Because how hard is it to be brave when you’re indestructible?)
- Jean-Luc Piccard: Captain Piccard has high moral standards which require his strict obedience. As Captain of the Enterprise, he upholds the guidelines of Star Fleet, including the Prime Directive. (I know he occasionally forgoes the directive, but for the most part he’s fairly strict.) In today’s world, where it seems everyone just does what they like or they act purely on gut instinct or desires, I very much appreciate someone who is willing put their own needs aside for the betterment of strangers and the betterment of a higher cause.
- Scarlett O’Hara: At a time when women are expected to be docile and selfless, Scarlett O’Hara takes back power over her own life. Instead of letting the Civil War crush her, instead of waiting for Mr. Right to come and rescue her, Scarlett does whatever she has to in order to thrive. In contrast to my favorites above, Scarlett takes what she wants and does what she wants.
- Rhett Butler: I’ve always been a fan of macho-yet-sensitive men. Men who are vulnerable enough to feel love, but who are not so mushy as to be dominated by the object of their affections. Rhett is the humanizing factor for Scarlett. Without Rhett, Scarlett O’Hara would be just another forgettable antihero.
- Ender Wiggin: Talk about a strong character! Ender’s growth from beginning to end is amazing. There’s something to be said for someone who doesn’t take any crap from anybody. He never started fights, but he sure as hell finished them (as Stilson would tell you–or not, because Ender accidentally killed him).
- Mr. Darcy: I’ve always had a soft spot for Brooders. Men who seem dominated by negative emotion, but who, in the end, rise above their natures to become something better. Having pride is not always a negative thing. Darcy’s pride, while sometimes forcing him to speak harshly to those he didn’t respect, also guided him in the end to aid Elizabeth’s sister, Lydia. While he could have easily just passed word along as to where Wickham was, he personally tracked him down and forcefully aided in preserving what little was left of Lydia’s reputation, and the reps of her sisters. He’s a determined, well-driven character–and handsome to boot.
- Katniss Everdeen: I love Katniss because she is such a real character. She can’t perform like some monkey, but she pulls through in a crisis. Her emotions are justified. And as a big sister myself, I can identify the urge to protect a younger sibling from harm. And there were several acts of aggression throughout the Hunger Games series that I’ll never forget, like when she kills acting President Coin, or when she hangs a dummy of Seneca Crane. She was ballsy, but not so much of a macho-woman as to be unbelievable.
So, who are your favorite characters? Who keeps you up at night when you should be sleeping because there’s something important to do tomorrow? Do you model your own characters after anyone?