Thankfully, pulp fiction and bestsellers were not all I had read till then. Our school library used to be pretty well stocked with all kinds of classics, only classics, come to think of it, apart from Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys and I had read plenty of them too. But during my under-grad years and later, I made a conscious effort to pick up books that were widely read, enjoyed cult status and would comprise an enriching reading experience. I wasn’t disappointed and decided they were quite my cup of tea I’d been missing in my years of ignorance.
So when I came across a tag to list your favourite literary characters, I got all excited. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to take up the tag.
I scanned the recesses of my mind where my favourite characters would be located, locked up in my memory. And I realised it’s a whole lot easier to list your favourite books than your favourite character.
However, one of my favourite characters has to be Heathcliff. I know, I know, there are lots of readers out there who think he was despicable, not a hero that the Wuthering Heights deserved, but I love the way his character has been moulded by Emily Bronte. He’s a loner, a lover, a symbol of raw power and energy, vulnerability… so much more. And he’s still just one character.
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations intrigued me like no other literary character. I still recall that passage from the book where she tells Pip, “Do you know what I touch here?” she said, laying her hands, one upon the other, on her left side. “Yes, ma’am.” (It made me think of the young man.) “What do I touch?” “Your heart.” “Broken!” She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis, and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it. You can see her come alive in Charles Dickens words, so much so that despite the unreal feel to her character, she’s so real.
And then there’s Rhett Butler – everything I’d ever want in a man! Man enough to set someone like Scarlett O’Hara right. I was Gone With The Wind and let my 16-year-old imagination feed on this chivalrous, brave picture of a perfect man.
Dr. Faustus because of how Marlowe created him. Created in the 18th century, Faustus’ questions remain relevant even today. I find his speeches echo my sentiments so many times as I oscillate between choosing the high moral ground and selling my soul to the Devil. Yes, I sometimes imagine myself in that kind of dilemma.
It’s difficult to choose my favourite character from those in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. But it has to be the silent strength of Hassan’s character that endears this book to me. He’s the underdog whom you want to help, the victim and the hero, pitied and respected at the same time.
Rebecca, who exists and doesn’t in the eponymous book, is the most intriguing literary character I’ve come acroos. And despite her absence she is the one around whom the book centres.