All books tell stories about characters. Characters are universal in nature with some regional flavors. But what attracts us to these characters is some characteristics we can identify with. It could be something we love or we hate. Both evokes strong emotions. How many times have you laughed out loud, or cried when reading a book. And there are some favorite characters who have inspired a whole host of stories. They travel beyond their own countries of origin and make themselves at home in alien countries among alien cultures.
Here’s a list of some of my most cherished characters –
- Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – I am absolutely in love with Mr. Darcy. He is the perfect gentleman. He is caring and understanding towards his love’s problems. He moves heaven and earth to solve her problems. And then, he is also supremely rich and handsome. Beat that combination.
- Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell – Scarlett has a fiercely independent mind who will go to any lengths to get what she wants. It’s a dangerous trait. Though we would all like to be like Scarlett, it is not possible. Scarlett lies, schemes, and does everything to get Ashley Wilkes who is not at all interested in her. Then comes the suave Rhett Butler who falls in love with Scarlett simply because she is so different from the rest of the girls. Excellent chemistry between the two.
- Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson, Arthur Conan Doyle – The story is told from Mr. Watson’s perspective which could be actually, us, the readers. Sherlock’s character is clear with good analytical skills, knowledge of chemistry, and old world English. A good combination.
- Hercules Poirot of the Poirot Series by Agatha Christie – Poirot is shown as a short, rotund, bumbling Frenchman. People easily take him for being dull. But he is razor sharp and love the way he solves cases. He is funny and complete with old world charm. One of my favorites is ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’
- Felicity “Flick” Clairet of Jackdaws, Ken Follett – Flick is the mission leader for a team of women who are planning to blow up the Telegram office of the Germans in France during World War II. She is a tough leader. She has to be because her team is made up of invalids. They are rejected by the military. But deep inside, she is a caring human. The character evolves from being a tough person to a caring, sisterly persona.
- Gabriel Allon of The Messenger and other stories, Daniel Silva – Gabriel Allon is an Art Restorer specializing restoring paintings of masters. But he is also a member of Israeli secret service. An agent with a good cover. But he is also a man who lost his love – his wife to mental illness and his child to a terror attack. This shows his human side and gives him motivation to perform as a secret service agent. We want him to succeed always.
- Voldemort of Harry Potter, J K Rowling – Voldemort, the villain of Harry Potter who is out to kill the child Harry Potter. How can you not hate him? But, it’s his characterization which is eerie, cold. Voldemort never shouts or becomes agitated. He is always cold and has a mind of his own. He will not say what he is going to do. He just does it. Perhaps that’s what makes him so scary.
- Karna in Mahabharat, Valmiki – Here is a man who is a hero. He is intelligent, loyal, brave, generous, handsome. He has all the qualities of a King, but he can never become a King. His father is the Sun-god. His mother abandons him at birth. He is raised by foster parents. He never knows who he is. His mother knows but tells him a day before he goes to war against his brothers. He is one of the most complex characters of Mahabharat.
- Father Ralph de Bricassart of The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough – Father Ralph is a very ambitious man. He is ready to sacrifice his love for achieving his ultimate dream of becoming a Cardinal in Rome. He achieves that too. But he is ultimately broken when he comes to know that he had a son and the son is dead. That shatters him, ultimately leading to his death. But, we love him because Meggie loves him with all her heart. And we feel the conflict of interests faced by Ralph.
- Colonel Aureliano Buendia from 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez – The colonel is quite a character. He is quirky, crazy, honest, disloyal with a mind of his own. He has some futuristic visions and he believes he can see into the future. This makes him crazily reckless and goes on with life with his eyes fully open. In this book, which takes a humorous approach to life in Macondo, the Colonel shines.
I can go on and on. But these are some characters which stay with us through our lifetimes. Let me know some of your favourite characters.