I have always been a passionate lover of literature. Books are so magical; they take us away from the real world, and carry us on a journey of discovery and adventure, making you a different person when you finish turn over that last page. It’s the characters that have the ability to draw us into these worlds and take us on these journeys – that’s something that I think deserves to be shouted about and celebrated. Here are seven of my favourite figures in literature and why I love them…
1# Harry Potter, Harry Potter series
It shouldn’t surprise you, since I recently wrote an article about why I love Pottermore, that one of my favourite literary figures is Harry Potter. The boy wizard is your archetypal ‘every-man’ – a normal boy thrust into an extraordinary situation not of his own making as he’s tasked with defeating the most evil wizard of all time. Harry Potter is a hero we can all relate to – kind, compassionate yet a human being with flaws – and by the end of the books, you feel like he’s one of your best friends.
2# Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre
I’m a sucker for a good romance and Jane Eyre, the eponymous protagonist of Charlotte Bronte’s seminal classic, is the perfect romantic heroine. In her, we have someone who loves fiercely, but never at the expense of her own strict moral compass. This is a woman who works for and truly deserves her happy ending, and we’re invested in her love story as it grows into a lifetime affair.
3# Antoinette Cosway, Wide Sargasso Sea
Speaking of Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea which reimagines Bronte’s classic from the point of view of the originals ‘mad ex wife in the attic’, presents an amazing character in Antoinette Cosway. It’s precisely because we know how Antoinette’s story tragically ends, that she comes to hold a place in our hearts. A genuinely good person who falls victim to the racism of her day – as well as her own sad mental health issues – by the end of Wide Sargasso Sea Antoinette is no longer the mad woman in the attic to readers. She someone we just want to gather up in our arms and comfort.
4# Ayla, Earths Children series
What would you do if your parents died when you were five and you were left all alone? That’s the dilemma that Ayla, the protagonist of the Earths Children series set in prehistoric times, face. And she more than rises to the occasion. It’s Ayla’s compassion and ability to endure, while striving to help anyone no matter how different they are, which makes her so compelling. Overcoming everything from misogyny to killer tribal chieftainesses, Ayla is a true force of nature that as the audience, we cheer for every time she succeeds and commiserate with every time she fails.
5# Winston, 1984
Since we’re living in a fairly dystopic world ourselves at the minute, with Donald Trump running amok as US President, 1984 is more relevant now than it has been in years. In Winston, the book presents us with a normal man who’s broken down by the system, as he’s forced to abandon any notion of independence in service of the state. Winston is a warning of what any one of us can become under the wrong circumstances, and as such he presents an undeniably fascinating figure.
6# Celie, The Color Purple
Celie is someone you just can’t help rooting for. A downtrodden black woman living in the US segregationist South in the early 20th Century, Celie is someone we get to see come into herself and we’re there for the ride. Throughout The Color Purple, Celie embarks on a passionate lesbian love affair, overcomes her abusers and even transcends the religious mores of her day to embrace her own kind of spiritualism. Who wouldn’t love a protagonist who transforms herself so completely?
7# Dr Frankenstein, Frankenstein
The best villains are multi-faceted, and that’s what Dr Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is. The author presents Dr Frankenstein as a tragic figure – and he is – but make no mistake, he’s a villain who goes to extreme lengths to reach his ambitions, whatever the cost. Dr Frankenstein is so interesting because he represents the darker side of human nature. That dark curiosity that whether we like it or not, lurks inside all of us. And that makes his story one that we can’t put down!