This week's Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and Bookish has us discussing our favorite characters from whatever genre we choose. This week I chose the classics genre - because more often than not, I hate characters more than I love them and this was the only category I could find 10 characters I loved!
(P.S. - Yes this is a day late, but in my defense, I started writing it yesterday...)
I think I fell in love with Rhett Butler the very first time I read the book (of many, many re-readings of Gone with the Wind.) I loved his stubbornness, his ingenuity (he was a rum-runner after all), his romantic side, the fact that he wouldn't let Scarlet push him over even though he was madly in love with her, their bickering, sigh, just... everything.
2. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings
To me, Sam is one of the best characters ever written. Is there any character who better exemplifies true love? ...
and I don't mean that in the way that over-zealous online fan-groups do. Sam is one of the greatest friends in the history of literature, literally willing to walk through the fires of Mordor by his friend's side to support him. I loved reading about Sam and his loyalty, kindness, bravery and dedication even more than I loved reading about Frodo's adventures (and that's saying a lot...).
3. Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby
I think Nick Carraway is one of the most underrated characters in The Great Gatsby. We see everything as he sees it while at the same time recognizing the things that he chooses not to acknowledge. He's a romantic at heart while being sucked into this insane world that while he's infatuated by, he's not not entirely a part of. If you've ever felt on the outside of the "cool" group, then Nick Carraway is the perfect character to relate to.
I really love strong female lead characters who stand up to the social norms around them (you'll see this as a reoccurring theme on this blog). I've always loved The Scarlet Letter because I think there are so many parallels to modern society still. Hester Prynne's self respect and love for her child struck me so strongly when I had to read it in high school. I still think the story bears a strong moral for most readers and love Hester as a protagonist. Confession: I actually love the idea of this book as a high school English assignment and think it's a great reminder for most high school girls
5. Ponyboy from the Outsiders
Ponyboy, oh Ponyboy, besides suffering through the most horrific nickname in the history of nicknames, you put up with so much. There's something about how Ponyboy grows up throughout the novel without losing his innate innocence and optimism that won me over heart and soul. Ponyboy reflects what so many of us wish the world was like, easily divisible into black and white, greasers and socs. We tend to put things in nice, neatly labelled boxes the same way Ponyboy does, and we learn the lessons about the dangers of doing so through him (rather than you know, getting caught up in a murder ourselves.)
Although she is never named in the book and is significantly overshadowed by the late Rebecca, the narrator is one of my favorite characters. Thrown into one of the most tumultuous situations, the author is able to keep her remarkably human. She's emotional and she's protective; she's paranoid and she's a rationalizer - she does what many of us would do in the same situation. She's not perfect and at times she's not even loveable. Throughout most of the book sometimes we forget that she's the narrator at all - just wishing the novel would get on with it already and discover the secrets. She's a quiet but constant present and there would be no novel without her.
Have I mentioned how much I love strong female protagonists from a patriarchical era? Meet the original, Antigone - the brave woman who fights the King for love. And no, not romantic love, familial love. (Have I mentioned how much I love characters with strong platonic or familial love yet? *cough* Sam *cough*) Antigone fights the King for the right to bury her brother after his less than honorable death, bringing the reader to series of ethical and legal questions as only Sophocles can. BUT! She's also passionate, funny and wonderfully feminine throughout it all, right
8. Milo from the Phantom Tollbooth
First of all, yes, I consider the Phantom Tollbooth a classic. at least it has been in my life. First published in 1961, my dad grew up reading the book and read it to my brother and I, and I am sure I'll do the same with my children.
Milo, the young, disaffected bored child doesn't know what to do with himself most days. Then he makes the wonderful discovery that every child makes that life itself is the journey and that you make your own adventure. Milo acts as the perfect relatable character for his transformation and journey from mildly spoiled complain-y kid, to independent everyday adventurer.
9. Professor McGonagall and 10. Hermione from Harry Potter
It's a strong female protagonist.
(But you know, a good one, not a Bella Swan I'm-so-strong-because-I-almost-killed-myself-when-my-boyfriend-dumped-me one, ugh.)
First, McGonagall reminded me very much of a Spanish teacher I had in high school that I loved. Smart, sharp, independent, took crap from no one, not even the chosen one. Actually in some ways, McGonagall reminds me of a grown-up Hermione. She's the backbone of so much of the series, she is both comfort and strength in a dark time and cracks the whip when the rest of the characters are too busy bandying about with trolls to realize what's actually brewing.
Hermione, Hermione, what is there to say about her. I love that Rowling wrote such a brilliantly smart female lead, whose main characteristic is her intelligence and her loyalty to her friends, then followed by her romantic involvements. She's neither infallible (Krum) nor blind (Ron) but seems to well, have a good head on her shoulders. Besides, as I've mentioned, I'm a sucker for intense platonic love and fielilty and next to Ron, Hermione is one of the most intensely loyal characters in the book.