I have to confess that I haven’t read anything new since last week. I have started the sequel to Ender’s Game, but with one thing and another I haven’t had a chance to finish it. As such, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a top ten of my favourite literary characters. Hurray!
Hercule Poirot – So many Agatha Christie’s
I love all the Agatha Christie’s WITHOUT EXCEPTION, but Poirot is my favourite. My love is, I think, enhanced by the perfect portrayal by David Suchet. It is as though he was put on this earth solely for the purpose of playing Poirot. He is so impressively clever, yet once he reveals his deductions, it never seems ridiculous. He is, at the same time, a curiously ridiculous individual, fastidious and easily offended. A work of comic genius.
Gilderoy Lockhart – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Another hilarious character. I think I have mentioned previously that it is only this character that prevents me from unilaterally declaring Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as my least favourite Harry Potter novel. He is remarkably self-centred, and yet charismatic enough to get away with it, even making Hermione weak at the knees. He is startlingly cowardly when it comes to it but that increases the humour rather than diminishing it. When we see him again in Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix he is remarkably changed, still ridiculous but now with a good deal of pathos.
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
I love Katniss because she reminds me of me. Not, unfortunately, because I can shoot a squirrel through the eye at a hundred paces and have enough courage to inspire an entire nation to rebellion, but because I too am abrupt and brusque and struggle to make friends. Sigh! Through Katniss though, I am able to see the positive side of the less positive parts of my personality. She seems discerning, not shy, and unapologetic in her awkwardness. A posture I can keen to emulate.
Amy Elliot Dunne – Gone Girl
SKIP THIS ONE IF YOU’VE NOT READ GONE GIRL OR SEEN THE FILM!!!!!
Not a nice lady this one, but so heartbreakingly clever. She discovers her husband is unfaithful and systematically plots to destroy him over the course of at least one year (possibly two. I have just leant out my copy and can’t remember L). The detail and precision is gobsmacking and even when things start to go wrong for her, she is resourceful enough to triumph. As Nick realises at the end, she is mental and dangerous, but she is alive like an electric wire. Another woman would, indeed, be hopelessly dull next to her.
Jim Dixon – Lucky Jim
I don’t know how I feel about Kingsley Amis’s writing in general. I loved Lucky Jim, and I was lucky enough to hear an audio recording by Martin Jarvis who is honestly the best reader ever. If you’ve never heard his reading of the Just William stories, you’ve missed a real treat. Jim is just absolutely hapless. He yearns for his life to be different but pretty much everything he does ensures that his life will never be different! He is lucky precisely because he is able to triumph in spite of himself. His number one enemy is alcohol. My two favourite scenes are when he wakes up hungover at his boss’s house, and when he delivers a lecture completely hammered. Idiot.
Jaime Lannister – Game of Thrones
I was slightly surprised to find that I considered Jaime to be my favourite Game of Thrones character. I always thought it would be Tyrion, Daenerys or Jon Snow. There you go! The thing about Jaime, for me, is that he has (so far) undergone such a transformation. The first time we meet him he is fucking his sister and committing attempted infanticide. However, he meets Brienne and completely changes. I’m not sure yet if it is a romantic relationship, but it is certainly an incredibly deep friendship, born of total animosity. It’s hard to know whether Brienne can take all the credit, or whether it is partly to do with his separation from poisonous Cersei, but he becomes more gentle, more moral and more loveable. As long as he doesn’t change back, I’m sold.
Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Who doesn’t love Bridget Jones? Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know them. Bridget, for me, is the epitome of modern womanhood. Trying to balance independence with her longing for a man, constantly throwing herself at problems in an attempt to perfect her life, and constantly falling short. I found her hilarious in the first two books, and really moving in the final one. She is every woman, with her perception of herself completely at odds with the reality.
Miss Havisham – Great Expectations
Miss Havisham is pretty much the polar opposite of Bridget Jones, distorting her reality to fit with her perception of herself. Basically, Miss Havisham’s life is one great big pity party, but I still find her strangely endearing. The self-confidence of the woman, and the complete abandon of everyone and everything to the altar of her grief is really quite inspiring, in a horrifying sort of way. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a complete pain. But there’s something quite wonderful about her. And I don’t like Pip anyway!
Iago – Othell0
Iago is my favourite character from Shakespeare. Conniving for the sake of it, almost motiveless, he systemically attacks Othello’s sanity and causes deaths just to satisfy his own jealousy. He weaves a plan of Machiavellian brilliance, or at least he would have it he didn’t get caught. Again, you might be able to tell I didn’t like Desdemona. She didn’t even try to save herself. I think all the other women on my list would be disgusted.
Lisbeth Salander – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Love. Really love. She struggles socially, although I’m not sure exactly what the problem is and whether it is nature or nurture. Either way, she is a woman who knows exactly who she is and cares not a jot for what others think. She is fearlessly, ridiculously brave. I cannot think of any other character that would stroll back into the house of a sexual abuser to let him do it again specifically to film him. Her revenge on him is one of the finest scenes ever in literature. She is tough yet fragile, demanding yet unwilling to give. She is fiercely intelligent and almost completely devoid of any overarching morality, yet a deeply sympathetic character. I love her.
So there you have it. Interestingly, not many classic characters, and it felt like it was mostly women when I was writing, although reading it back, it’s a pretty even split.
Who are your favourite characters?