The worst question that can ever be posed to someone who is obsessed with books, is who are your favourite characters? Narrowing down the hundreds of fictional people, close to your heart, that you feel you’ve connected with over the years is agonising. So I thought it would be fun to put myself to the torture challenge and choose my most inspiring characters. Picking just 10 was impossible, and while 15 was still very difficult, I thought I had better stop before it became a post thousands of pages long with the name of every character who has ever made it in to my heart.
- George Milton – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”
At number 15 comes in George Milton from the GCSE favourite Of Mice and Men. George’s friendship and loyalty to the simple minded Lenny is selfless and admirable and his mercy is heartbreakingly inspiring. While he is complicated, intelligent and hard working, his best quality is his the size of his heart.
- Allan Karlson – The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
“People could behave how they liked, but Allan considered that in general it was quite unnecessary to be grumpy if you had the chance not to.”
I hope that if I ever reach h the ripe old age of 100 and I accidentally pee on my fluffy slippers and can barely stand the people around me, I have not only the guts and the nerve, but the sense of humour and outlook on life of Allan Karlson. This guy had me in hysterics from his very first thoughts and had well earned my support by the time he was being chased around the country by an angry drug dealer.
- Matilda Wormwood – Matilda by Rohal Dahl
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”
I began my journey with Matilda at the age of 7 and have revisited her every holiday since. Her intelligence and determination despite her cruel and neglecting parents and then her scary head mistress Ms Trunchbull was a true source of inspiration as a child. Her love for books and her sense of adventure, and commitment to doing the right thing made a wonderfully relatable character.
- Lucy Pevensie – The chronicles of Narnia by Lewis Carroll
“I don’t care what you think, and I don’t care what you say. You can tell the Professor or you can write to Mother or you can do anything you like. I know I’ve met a Faun in there”
Lucy Pensive, another childhood favourite. Lucy’s sense of adventure and her amazingly good instinct and judgement were what made The Chronicles of Narnia so fun to read. When she becomes a Queen, she is known as Queen Lucy the Valliant, which gives a strong sense of her character as a warrior.
- Sam Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy By J.R.R Tolkein
“And yet their wills did not yield, and they struggled on.”
Let’s be honest, Frodo would never have succeeded with the task without Sam, and he barely gets the appreciation he deserves. So for his unwavering loyalty and his keenness to assist Frodo, I award Sam a place on my list.
- Dr Jekyll – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”
While Dr Jekyll may seem like a bit of twisted choice, he recoginsed that no human is purely good or purely evil, which was demonstrated by the Jekyll/Hyde split personality drama. I learnt that as just a person, I am going to make mistakes and that is okay, because I am not configured to be perfect. A very nice message indeed to contract from a Gothic Horror novel.
- Charlie – Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
Charlie is a character that always felt real to me. There are very few literary characters that can acknowledge the true range of emotions that people feel, yet the character of Charlie managed to portray them so well, even if they were contradictory. He went through something truly tragic and we see him trying to deal with those events, while simultaneously balancing school and attempting to make friends. The fact that he suffers with anxiety and bouts depression, and yet has special moments of optimism is a true source of hope.
- Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
Atticus Finch is one of the most inspirational and memorable characters of the 20th century. He stays true to the belief that every single person is equal regardless of the colour of their skin and he actively fights racial injustice. In the 1960’s this would have been a very bold move for a white man, but he sticks to his guns and sees through that justice is served. Doing what’s easy, is rarely doing what’s right.
- Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Despite the lack of inspirational quotes in the Hunger Games, the strong, independent, female lead, Katniss Everdeen, is a symbol of women’s strength. She is not only physically strong, and skilled, she also has a strong mind and will, which are the kinds of qualities that need to be attributed to women more.
6. Hermione – The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
“I never wished to see you sorry; now / I trust I shall.”
The original Hermione who gave her name to the Harry Potter character we all know and love was very slick herself. She pretty much faked her own death to teach her over jealous and judgemental husband a lesson. The tragic-comedy is set in a time when women could only dream of showing their men how wrong they were, but Hermione takes her fate in to her own hands and decides enough is enough.
- Neville Longbottom – Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
‘It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.’
Mr Neville Longbottom may not have been ‘The Chosen One,’ but his character is fundamental to the plot. The clumsy, forgetful, 11 year old we grow to love in The Philosopher’s Stone grows in to the bravest kid in the book. Not only does he stands up for himself and the entire wizarding population to none other than the most feared, dark wizard of all time, but he karate chop, sword slices, the head off the final horcrux, Nagini. I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s pretty bad-ass in my eyes.
- Nick Caraway – The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
“It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”
“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever know.”
You might have noticed that there are a couple more quotes for Mr. Nick Caraway than there is for the other characters, but there were at least 50 more that I could have included. Nick is a beautiful, sensitive, eloquent character; quiet, un-judging, yet highly observant. He supports what is right and true in the company of those who would sell their souls for wealth and power.
- Hermione Granger – The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
‘The brightest witch of her age.’
Being extremely intelligent, extremely brave and extremely loyal are qualities to be celebrated. Hermione is inspiring due to the fact that she is a strong, smart female character who saves her male counterparts from uncertain fatalities consistently throughout the series.
2.Severus Snape – The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.”
Severus Snape is a character I loved from the very moment I met him. I sensed something very special the first time Harry Potter saw him sitting on the teachers’ table at the top of The Great Hall, and his scar prickled. From then we were taken on a rollercoaster of emotions regarding his true motives and his real alliance. But Snape was good. Good from the very moment that Voldemort threatened Lily Evans because he loved for all his life. I can only have the utmost respect for a man who risked his life everyday to honour the memory of a loved one, and truly defeat the one who killed her.
- Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.… [Gatsby had] an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”
“He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
No amount of words could ever convey the love I have for The Great Gatsby himself, which is why he makes it to the top spot on my list. Gatsby’s dedication, commitment, determination is infectious to say the least. His optimism and his innocence and naivety pulls on my heartstrings in a way no other fictional being has been able to do. Gatsby is the kind of person I would like to be; to be able to believe the good in evil, to be able to love wholeheartedly, to believe so strongly that I could have anything if I wanted it enough. Gatsby is a one of a kind character who, despite his shortcomings, and delusional ideas about the world, is sensitive and beautiful, and worthy of number 1.