I love that contemporary literature is full of strong, empowering female characters who are the heroes of their own stories, not damsels in distress who need saving. If I wrote a post about the female literary characters that have inspired me, it would never end. So today, I’m looking at some particularly memorable male characters who are sometimes overlooked in favour of other protagonists.
A rude and selfish child suffering from a bad school experience, Edmund was evacuated from London during the war with his siblings. He is michevious and a liar, manipulative and cruel to his sister. In the first book of C.S Lewis’s Narnia series, Edmund plots with the White Queen to make himself her heir, putting his siblings in danger in his greed for power. I think it’s interesting to have a main character who is bad, because you are pulled between your curiosity to see what the character will do and your lack of sympathy for him. Edmund eventually sees the White Queen’s cruelty and is repentant, and the reader gets to watch him grow as a person and change. His willingness to grow is what makes him worthy of leadership and he is a true example of the fact that it is okay to make mistakes.
“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.”
“But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.”
Atticus was the brave defender of a black man in the American Deep South who was accused of raping a white woman. He is a man of integrity and such an authentic character. Atticus is a father who lets his children learn fom their own mistakes and teaches them by example instead of just telling. A compassionate man who loves to read and hates violence, he accepts his children, especially his daughter, as they are, and cares for every human being equally. Atticus teaches us that good morals and our own consience are more important than what other think about us.
“I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”
“‘Atticus, are we going to win [the case]?’ ‘No, honey.’ ‘Then why–‘ ‘Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,’ Atticus said”
Ron is the most loyal character I have ever come across in literature. A boy who constantly feels second best, first to his sister who was the daughter his parents craved, and then to his best friend, Harry Potter, the Chosen One, Ron has stood by Harry from the very beginning, against his friends and even some of his family. Although often seen as a sidekick to the hero of the Harry Potter series, Ron is an authentic and fully formed character in his own right. He is hilarious, kind hearted and terrified of spiders. He is tall and awkward, hot-headed and clumsy, brave and fiercly loving. Second youngest of 7 children, family and friendship are most important to Ron. He is a true Gryffindor. Ron taught me to always do the right thing, no matter how scared it makes you feel . Harry Potter just wouldn’t be what it is without him.
“He must have known I’d want to leave you.”
“No, he must have known you would always want to come back.”
“Why are they all staring?” demanded Albus as he and Rose craned around to look at the other students.
“Don’t let it worry you,” said Ron. “It’s me. I’m extremely famous.”
Yes, one of my 5 memorable male characters is a rabbit. Each rabbit in Richard Adam’s Watership Down is as unique and individual as human beings. Bigwig is a large, rough and dominant buck whose military stategy and determination lead him and his friends to safety. Bigwig had a status and a place within his warren, yet was willing to leave it all behind for Fiver, because he believed his word was the truth, and for Hazel, because, despite his weak physical appearance, he recognised his ability to lead. He is far from cowardly, and hides a kind heart beneath his sharp words. What I love about Bigwig is his respect for all others, regardless of their physical appearance/status/species.
“My Chief Rabbit has told me to stay and defend this run, and until he says otherwise, I shall stay here. –Bigwig”
“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”
How could I not include him? Something tells me Dumbledore would have got on with Atticus. An infinitely wise man, with a quiet dignity and a reassuring presence, Dumbledore had an answer for everything. He was a strong male role-model for Harry, along with Remus, Sirius and Mr Weasley. We only find out later on in the series that Dumbledore had a troubled past that he never talked about, and made mistakes that he bitterly regretted until the day he died. Like Sirius Black, Dumbledore recognised that there is light and dark in everybody, and had an ability to forgive. One of his last sentences in the last book represents the whole of the Harry Potter world for fans everwhere:
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it’s not real?”
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”