A revised list, from a post I did a while back. My favorite characters from fiction. I am limiting my choices to just novels – and leaving out such amazing characters as Hamlet, or Stanley Kowalski.
Here is how I choose:
My criteria? Characters who seem to live. Characters who seem to be emissaries from the real world – and not made up by an author.
Like Madame Defarge in Tale of Two Cities. I read that book in high school and I remember some of the descriptions of her almost word for word. She is, to me, unforgettable. Great creation.
The same with Queequeg in Moby Dick. The opening chapters of the book when Ishmael meets Queequeg – and then there’s the strangely homoerotic moment when they lie in bed together and Ishmael wakes up, and Queequeg is hugging him in his sleep … fascinating. I love Queequeg. He, to me, is a character who lives, beyond the pages of that book. He is alive.
I chose other characters because, in a direct way, they had an impact on how I lived my life, and who I have become. That’s how Harriet the Spy is for me. That’s how Jo March from Little Women is for me, and that is definitely how Scout Finch and Charlotte the spider are for me. You can NEVER convince me that these characters only live between the covers of their respective books. They have been, at various times, like little guardian angels to me.
I guess that, above all, was my criteria: a character who transcends his or her own genre, who steps up off the flat page, and lives. Lives on, long after you finish the book. Like Cathy in East of Eden. Or The Grand Inquisitor in Brothers Karamazov.
And just a small note: There should be NO SHAME attached to your favorite fictional characters, and you should assume NO JUDGMENT from me or from anyone else when you put them down. If your favorite fictional character is a feisty brunette damsel in distress in your favorite bodice-ripping romance novel, put it the hell down in the comments here, and BE PROUD.
Okay. So here’s my list.
Sheila’s Favorite Fictional Characters.
Harriet, from Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. Hands down, my favorite fictional character EVER written. I believe I have covered this.
Jane Eyre. from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte the spider. from Charlotte’s Web, by EB White
Queequeg from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Hester the Molester, from Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (I love Owen, too, but Hester’s my favorite one in that book)
Anne Shirley, from the Anne series, by LM Montgomery
Emily Byrd Starr, from the Emily series, by LM Montgomery
Miss Havisham. from Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Ramona Quimby. from the Ramona series, by Beverly Cleary
Yossarian. From Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.
Milo. From Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.
The Grand Inquisitor. From Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevsky. (my rambling thoughts upon completing that book)
Bud White. from LA Confidential, by James Ellroy (can’t resist)
Mr. Darcy. From Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
Phoebe Caulfield, Holden’s sister. From Catcher in the Rye, by Salinger
Porfiry Petrovitch, the detective in Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky.
Olympia, from Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn
Huck Finn. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Leopold Bloom. Ulysses, by James Joyce.
Molly Bloom. Ulysses, by James Joyce (a really really fun Bloomsday celebration I attended … where everyone knew the last “paragraph” of Molly’s monologue by heart. Amazing fun)
Alice. from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.
Huck Finn, from Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Stephen Dedalus. from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
Fagin. from Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
Jo March. from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
Madame Defarge. from Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Atticus Finch. from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Scout Finch. from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Boo Radley. from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Cathy. from East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (just the thought of her makes me shiver)
Quoyle, from The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
Villanelle. from The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson (Villanelle is a web-footed cross-dressing redheaded daughter of a Venetian boatmen, during the time of the Napoleonic wars. Unbelievably great character)
Sam Clay and Joe Kavalier, from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
Charles Wallace, from Madeleine L’Engle’s Time trilogy