>Character Factor


I used to be an avid reader, now I just love reading whenever I find time. I’ve read reams and reams of printed paper to fire up my imagination and transport myself into a world of make-belief, for better or for worse. Sadly though, I spent a lot of my early years reading books that did not prepare me for the Honors degree in English Literature that I would later graduate with. Pulp fiction – that’s what I’d been reading – had no place in the canon of literature, I was told. And in the literary world that I aspired to inhabit the Sidney Sheldons, Eric Segals, John Grishams and Jeffrey Archers that I had revered till then, were looked at with condescension, much to my consternation and dismay. Not that they did not make for interesting reads, but they just weren’t the authors that students of English Literature should be interested in.

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.

Who is your favourite literary character?

18 responses »

  1. >Lovely Post!!I remember Ms Havisham when I read the book. She intrigues me even then. And I read a lot of pulp fiction too. Along with a large dose of Hardy boys. Thankfully, I have now graduated to other genres. 😛 …I think you should do n expanded post about books.

  2. >Neha: I also used to read a lot, somehow dont find the time or the motivation now. Characterisation is what interests me most in a novel. How well the author has thought out a character, paid attention to detail and the dynamics of the character, how well their actions reflect their personality…analizing all this has made reading an enriching experience for me. Some of the characters that have stayed with me are: Michael Corleone: The GodfatherHari: Five Point SomeoneGogol: The NamesakeHoward Roark: The FountainheadDumbledore: Harry Potter And many more…characters make the book what it is! Good writing there :)! Keep it up!

  3. >Manasa: You missed out Enid Blyton in the list. To add a few: Sands of time by Sydney Sheldon, Anne Frank, MAriam from Thousand Splendid Suns.

  4. >Unsungpsalm said: Favourite character??? Hmm! That could take some thought!Yes, Rebecca was enchanting and stimulating. Honestly, I liked Scarlett much better when she was her own self, than before Rex happened to her.Though I haven’t read that book yet… only watched the awesome film!

  5. >Piper said: what a fabulous post! Took me back to childhood.. our school library had a lotta nancy drews and hardy boys too. Not to forget the naughtiest girl series, trixie beldon series, famous five, secret seven and what have you! Perry masons, erich segals.. and mills and boons which were allowed only after class7!! 🙂 Remember noddy books? and all the enid blytons? I could just go on..Gosh! those were fabulous times huh?

  6. >@Vinz: And I can only remember characters, no story plots.@Rambunctious: I’m afraid my expanded post on books will never fit in here!@Neha: Oh yes Dumbledore! He’s quite adorable too.@Manasa: And Malory Towers too.@Unsung: I preferred the book a lot more than the movie.@Chandni: Go ahead, do it now.@Piper: Yes, there was so much interesting stuff to read in the school library.

  7. >ah well, someone tagged me too this (that was 10 characters) and i thought ill put a history of my reading or something like that.. its half way through, but stuck there! anyways my fav 5 would have to be….1. Brer Rabbit2. Jeeves, or wooster3. most of Coehlo’s protagonists – but notably, Santiago, Brida, and Elijah4. Dumbledore/Harry Potter (cant decide which) 5. the guy and the girl from ‘love story’ – dont rem their names… and yeah, also florentyna Kane…. but we’re outta numbers!

  8. >Good post…Have lots of them.I too go with Heathcliff..Mariam in thousand splendid suns ,Dumledore n harry potter ,ravan in ravan and eddie ,Darrel in malory towers!!The list is endless..all the characters are just pouring out..

  9. >May I add –on a completely tangential note– that I am surprised and flattered to find myself on the blogroll of someone I didn’t know existed? :0) I suppose thank yous are in order. So… thanks, D!Oh, as for characters… it’s Miss Havisham for me. And Uriah Heep. Yes, kinda old world that way.

  10. >@Avaran: I love Coelho’s stories more than his characters.@myspace: A Thousand Splendid Sons is still on my must-read list!@Sach: Really? That’s quite an insight into your life, if I may say so!@OJ: Happens.

  11. >ashamed to admit haven’t read any of the books the characters of which you have mentioned in your post 😦 …but my list of favourite characters wud be :1. Mariam from A Thousand Splendid Suns (I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people including her in their favs)2. Dominique Francon from The Fountainhead3. Philip from Of Human BondageAnd I agree with Vinu, even I remember books more than characters…

  12. >oh… yea, but is characters are just ‘me’ all over.. like in ‘brida’, the girl is told that that she asks too many questions because she is lazy to find out for herself…. (not the kind of questions u can find on wikipedia, mind you)and im this big questionner, according to pretty much everyone who knows me, and so often, i ask myself, is it stuff i really need someone’s help to know.. but im too lazy to think out my own answer…

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