Day 18: Favourite Characters
This is the equivalent of asking a parent which is their favourite child, you know. *Huff*
Rhett Butler- Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
First off, I should explain that Gone with the Wind is my absolute favourite book (even over Jane Eyre) and I have no idea why it isn’t included in my favourite books post. I completely forgot about it (I feel a fraud calling it my favourite now!), and then I saw it on my shelf and- ugh. Anyhoo, I’ve just started re-reading it, and I haven’t even got to Rhett’s first scene but still.
Rhett is one of my favourite characters because he knows exactly who he is. He doesn’t pretend to be nice or to be a gent, to the point of shocking Scarlett, though his manner intrigues her. He sticks out from the other Southern men in the novel, who are keen to go all guns blazing into war, as he recognises- and has the bravery to stand up and say- that they will probably lose. He strikes me as having self-preservation, rather than being selfish like Scarlett.
I prefer Rhett to Scarlett, though I think they are very similar and in the modern world (minus all the dancing round social expectations and rules) they would make a fantastic couple. Rhett is simply more likeable than Scarlett: he respects and is kind to Melanie, is loving to his step-son Wade and daughter Bonnie, and his witty banter with Scarlett is great to read (even if you do want him to kiss her “properly” already!).
Jane Eyre- um, Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Jane is a character that I really identify with- I think if I were a book character I would be Jane! I like the fact that even in an oppressive society (for women) Jane has the confidence and the strong-will to assert herself even to people who are technically her “superiors”. I adore the scene where Mr Rochester asks Jane to stay with him despite knowing of his wife’s existence for this very reason: Jane refuses and stands by her principles. Knowing the amount of courage to say that, and how much it would have hurt her to say that to a man she loved, made me respect Jane 10 x more.
Despite being a romantic lead, Jane isn’t considered attractive (neither is Mr Rochester), but she isn’t ashamed of that: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!” Despite being female and a lower class, Jane knows her own worth, and she isn’t ashamed of herself. I view her as a Victorian feminist (high five, Jane!).
Pip- Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
My reason for liking Pip is very simple: he’s very human.
I almost cheered when Joe came to visit Pip in London, and Pip found himself embarrassed by the man who had loved and cared for him all his life. It sounds weird, but I was genuinely pleased to see that nastier side of human nature. It isn’t that Pip’s horrible- we can see that in his love for Estella, and his kind nature as he tries to help out his friend Herbert- it’s just that he’s human. You’re not telling me there are no instances where you’ve been slightly embarrassed by something a friend or someone you love has said or done in front of someone else. Maybe they laughed really loud and people around you started turning round, and even though you felt ashamed for thinking that way you just wanted them to shut up?
Luna Lovegood & Hermione Granger- Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
At the moment there seems to be this push for “strong female characters”. It means well, but I think it misses the point. Female characters both in literature and the films do seem to fit into narrow categories: the slut, the nerd, etc. I don’t think the solution is to make a load of “strong” characters, though. Just make female characters as individual and different as women are in real life.
Which brings me to my favourite characters. I was torn between all of the characters in Harry Potter, but especially the women. My favourite male characters are all the bad guys! The female ones, however… JK Rowling has written a number of very good role models as characters, particularly the women., and they happen to be varied too, like any group of women in real life. I was going to pick just Hermione, because I love how she is bookish but learns to get her head out of books to form a great friendship with Ron and Harry. She’s mature, she’s intelligent, and incredibly brave. She puts up with years of bullying about her blood purity, and still manages to smash the Pureblood ideals and come top of her class. Despite this, she’s flawed- she has a nasty streak (see her keeping Rita Skeeter in a jar as a bug, cursing ‘Sneak’ onto Marietta’s face…) which I find unpleasant, but gratifying since it proves she’s not all “perfect”.
Luna is almost the polar-opposite of Hermione, but she’s still another favourite. Like me, she’s weird, and okay with that. She’s 100% herself. She comes across as a tad airy-fairy, but has this sense of inner-steel. Even the Chosen One knows to listen to her!
I also found it incredibly moving in the Deathly Hallows when Hermione, Ron and Harry visit her father and see her room, which she has painted with all her friends’ faces. You get this sense that she’s been seriously bullied for her weirdness, but hasn’t let it get her down, and not she’s got friends she really loves and appreciates them.
Who are your favourite characters?