Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Literary Crushes

This was originally posted on my livejournal in November 2010.
Two months ago I wrote a post on my favorite heroines and I said at the end I would do heroes next.  Here I am, just getting around to it.  I really meant to do it sooner but every time I gave it any thought it seemed like a Herculean task.  Why?  I tend to develop crushes on boys in books.  And no, I am not ashamed to admit it.   I was concerned this would get out of control or be difficult to narrow down as a result.  It was.  And if you poll me again in six months my choices will probably be different in some way, at least in the honorable mentions.  

Ron Weasley
“We’ll be there, Harry…At your aunt and uncle’s house.  And then we’ll go with you wherever you’re going…We’re with you whatever happens.”
I know some will think it horribly cliché that I’ve included an HP character, especially after including Hermione in my list of heroines.  I don’t even have the excuse of growing up with these books, the first one didn’t come out until I was in college.  But it cannot be escaped, I love Ron.  He has a sarcastic sense of humor that is tinged with arrogance, all of which is a massive attempt to cover up his insecurities.  He is intelligent but lazy.  He tries hard to be cool but is a complete dork.  He is also stubborn and willing to face his mistakes and failures.  Ron has weaknesses and he fights an ongoing battle through the entire series to overcome them.  He is not the same kind of hero Harry is.  Harry is a child of prophecy and has no real choice but to take on what he does.  Ron has a choice and he chooses to stand by Harry.  And then epically fails at that promise quoted above.  However, he turns around and faces that failure head on.  After leaving he chooses to come back.  This takes a tremendous amount of courage and humility.  Then, when he is already emotionally and physically exhausted from the events of this return, he has the added challenge of being asked to immediately face and defeat his deepest most secret fears.  This would have broken a weaker man, but he succeeds.  What isn’t to love? 
Note:  Can I just say I HATE what the movies have done to this character?  They have turned him into, at best, a prop and, at worst, an idiotic fool.

“I can do anything I want!”
Gen is a thief and a liar.  He is lazy, arrogant, petulant, whiny, snarky, vain, temperamental.  He is brilliant, strong willed, brave, loyal, considerate, merciful.  He likes to have his own way.  He is a dedicated servant.  He can hold a grudge for a lifetime.  He has an amazing ability to forgive and set aside the past.  He is not a man you want as an enemy.  He is not an easy man to have as a friend.  He really is one of the most complex characters who ever took form in a book.  People are wary of him and at a loss as to what to do with him.  At the same time the people who see him up close can’t help but give him their hearts (on a toothpick if he asked).    I am having trouble coming up with words to sum up who he is and what there is to love (ummm…everything).   If you’re not already acquainted with him just go and read these books

Sydney Carton
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
I was seven years old the first time I read the children’s illustrated classic version of A Tale of Two Cities.  I was enraptured.  I read that book so many times it fell apart.  It was the self sacrificial love and devotion of Sydney Carton that ensnared my imagination and intrigued me even when I couldn’t fully understand the concepts and themes.   I read the complete novel for the first time when I was 12 and have read it several times since.  It still ensnares me.  Sydney is another one of those brilliant minds in a seemingly lazy body.  He comes with quite a load of issues.  He is not completely selfless, as he leaves Lucie knowing why he chooses to do what he does however, he does sacrifice his own life for her happiness.  I have never really understood exactly why he was so devoted to Lucie but this does not diminish the power of his actions a jot.  His sacrifice is not an easy one as it’s not like he unthinkingly throws himself in the way of a bullet or oncoming carriage.  He has to plan and plot out his own death.  Then he has plenty of time to consider exactly how it’s going to happen.  Choosing death by decapitation while a jeering crowd screams for your blood so that someone else can live the happily ever after you always wanted with the woman you love is not the choice most men would make.   

Lord Peter Wimsey
“I gather that he nearly knocked you down, damaged your property, and generally made a nuisance of himself, and that you instantly concluded he must be some relation to me.”
Peter is…brilliant, uses arrogance and sarcasm as a shield, enjoys his leisure time and does not like to be told what to do.  He pretends idiocy and carelessness to keep people at arm’s length.  (Does anyone see a pattern developing in these?)  Peter is a brilliant detective with an insatiable curiosity.  When his mind is set on a job, hell or high water will not stop him completing it.  When he is not doing a job, he is not so easy to get moving.  He is stubborn and single minded when he wants something.  He does not back down or give an inch.  He collects books (sigh) and likes to quote them (this can be annoying in an endearing way).  Women love him but he, contrarily, only wants the one who keeps saying no.  He could have come across as an obnoxiously perfect romantic hero type, but he doesn’t.  His flaws are evident and the torment that he feels over what he does makes him startlingly human.

Edmond Dantes
“I felt myself pushed onward like a cloud of fire sent from heaven to burn the cities of the wicked.  I habituated my body to the most violent exercise, and my spirit to the severest trials.  I taught my arm to slay, my eyes to behold suffering, my lips to smile at the most terrible sights.  From being a kind and confiding nature, I made myself into a vindictive, treacherous and wicked man.  Then I set forth on the path that was opened up to me; I conquered space and I have reached my goal:  woe to those I encountered on my way.”
Oh, the melodrama.  I know, but no one can draw me into enjoying it more than Dumas can.  The Count of  Monte Cristo is another one I was introduced to at the tender age of seven via the children’s illustrated classics.  This one has remained a favorite too.  Edmond is complex and reading his story is an exercise in psychology as much as it a pleasurable reading experience.  Edmond began his life in humility but after falsely being imprisoned and losing everything he worked for he was a little bitter.  He spends years plotting and setting  up his revenge on all the people who wronged  him.  Then he is successful in carrying them out while disguising who he really is from everyone who knew him.  The brilliant mind that can accomplish a feat such as that deserves respect.  He also has the courage to face up to his mistakes and try to make amends where he can.  He is ruthless and does some despicable things but I still love to watch him win.  He is the ultimate anti-hero.  

Who would be on your list?

Three of the heroes I chose actually match up with three of the heroines I chose.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Given that, I should probably do couples next but that is a little too cutesy for my tastes.  So I think it will be villains/villainesses.  Maybe I won’t wait two months to get around to it this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment