This week’s Broke and the Bookish meme is all about Characters that I [fill in the blank]. So I chose to take on the idea of characters that I relate to in ways that are sometimes not the best. Good literature is like looking in a mirror; your reactions to characters both good and bad can allow you to see something deeper about your self. In no particular order, here are the characters I connect to in some way, shape, or form.
- Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale: She’s trapped by her society and caught in her past. Offred’s way of handling these external and internal forces isn’t always wise. Atwood’s novel is a terrifying glimpse into a future that doesn’t seem as impossible as we would like, and I appreciate that she didn’t populate her narrative with any gradient of perfect people. Offred fights depression and a sense of hopelessness with raw emotion and aggressive rebellion. Who the heck hasn’t done that?
- Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones: It feels a tad strange to say that I relate so well to a twelve-year-old girl who views the world from her perch in Heaven. But she seeks the best in situations that are absolutely dismal; it doesn’t always work for her but I certainly appreciate the effort. When I first read this book in the seventh grade I felt so connected to Susie’s disconnection. It’s all about that first read when it comes to relating to characters.
- Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar: Within reading the first five pages of Plath’s infamously autobiographical novel, I felt a kinship with Esther. And then my next thought was, “Well, crap, that can’t be healthy!” There’s just something in Plath’s tone and language that feels like her words could be mine too. Dealing with issues of stability and sexuality is something plenty of readers can connect with, regardless of your current state of mental health.
- Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre: Any girl (or hey, any guy) who has connected with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when they treat her like poo on the bottom of their shoes in the boutique can connect with Jane Eyre. It’s the same general principle of feeling alienated and being made to be a lesser for their perceived station in life, only more darkly Romantic. Jane has more of a vengeful streak than Julia though, which I think makes her more interesting.
- Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary: My inner frantic nutbag connects with Bridget. That is all.
- Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Gurrrrrrrrl, I have been there. In your most passionately desperate moments–in the throes of love or even lust–you know you have pulled a Helena. I read her dialogue and simultaneously wince and nod in sisterly understanding. Such is life, I suppose.
- Briseis in Daughter of Troy: Oi. Briseis is selfish, haughty, and just this side of vain. But she is also strong, empowered, and captivating. One of my favorite books of all time as well as one of my favorite characters.
- Danny Saunders in The Chosen: Danny can be abrasive and unyielding in his opinions. His push-pull with tradition and family is something I could truly connect with though. I’ve got a lot of love for this character.
- Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities: Such a bad man! I love him more than any other character in the book. Who needs Lucie? I was so compelled by Sydney and felt like he was the person I was most interested in following along with.
- Gene in A Separate Peace: Given the ending, I feel a tad guilty about connecting with Gene. His introvert characteristics and wicked streak of jealousy are avenues I’ve been down myself.
None of these characters are “bad people”. They’re complex and potentially brooding and there is something relatable in all of them. It’s all in how you connect as a reader, and our darker sides connect with characters just as readily as our lighter sides.
Hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Tuesday post. Happy Reading!