What is it that drives us to read books?
It might be the questions of what’s going to happen next. It might be the excellent descriptors of the setting the story is based in. It might even be the emotional ride that the author takes you on.
Perhaps it is all of the above combined. But even if it is all of these, there is one common factor throughout all of these. To figure out what happens next, the characters have to be moving through the plot. The characters are the ones that interact with the environment, and it’s their descriptions that we read. It is the emotions that the characters have that we connect with and feel.
Of course, there are certain characters that we love more than any others. But there are also some characters that we hate beyond all imagining. Now, I’m not talking about good guys vs. bad guys. Even among bad guys, there are ones that we hate and love, but for different reasons from the good guys. And we don’t adore all protagonists.
Why I love one character might be the exact reason that you hate them. The qualities and values that I hold dear may not be quite as high on your priority list, and vice versa. You most likely have characters that I don’t particularly care for. And that’s perfectly all right.
On that note, here are some of the characters that I like and why. Keep in mind this is a very short list and is prone to change quite quickly.
Raleigh Becket from Pacific Rim – So, I don’t really care for this movie, but I do absolutely love his character. I love how gracious he is when he’s insulted and how he doesn’t rise to the bait when being antagonized. Raleigh is unbelievably calm and compassionate. Even when someone makes a mistake, he is very understanding and kind about it and doesn’t patronize them. Along with that comes a very patient and protective nature. He cares about those around him, and will fight to the death for them. I don’t see very many characters like him, and I so wish we had many, many more.
Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist – This character is a bit more complicated. Riza is a soldier, but she goes above and beyond what is called for of her position. Of course, her job demands that she is protective and strict, but it is in a lot more of a motherly way. With two boys, still children, that she interacts with often, she is supportive, understanding, caring, warm, and will always listen to them and uplift them if required. She has blood on her hands, and she knows it, but she works to atone for that blood and will fully accept the consequences when the time comes. On top of her loyalty, which is almost larger than possible, she is highly intelligent, able to figure out the identity of a spy long before anyone else and to deliver secret messages while being watched 24/7.
Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote – Jessica, to me, is the very definition of a lady. She is so kind, understanding, easy to talk to, and full of conviction. Everyone she meets is drawn to her and trusts her opinion. Few things can shake her morals. Even when a dear, dear friend is guilty of murder, she can convince them to turn themselves in to the police. Her wit and tongue are second to none. Honestly, I think she’s on a Shakespeare level of insulting people. But she doesn’t quite insult them directly. It’s more like the charge full-speed ahead and prove themselves the idiot. But she is so gracious about it all the time.
Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings – Now, I am still getting to know this character, but what I have discovered is absolutely amazing. His loyalty is next to none. Somehow, even after being pushed continuously away and blamed, he is still more loyal than most anyone else in the series. His unwavering faith practically drives the story; he carries the hero through his trials (sometimes quite literally). And he is so gentle, kind, and unsure, but doesn’t let any of that stop him in his quest to help the hero. Without him, I genuinely believe they would have failed completely and utterly.
Well, there ya have it. Like I said, this is just a short list. And I know not everyone will like any of the characters that I’ve mentioned. That’s a good thing, though. If we all love the same characters for the same reasons, then the stories we read would be dull as we watch the exact same character go through the exact same trials in the exact same way. Not to mention, it would probably also mean we would be the same.
Go out there and create a plethora of characters just as diverse as I know all of you are!
What are some of your favorite characters? Why do you like them?