Anybody who has read even just a few books – or watched a movie or a TV show – will be able to point to at least one fictional character that has really stood out in their minds. You know, someone that you think – How can I be like them? In my life, I’ve admired a lot of fictional characters (almost as many as I’ve despised). My fictional role models have always been people who I consider that I have a lot in common with – but better than me. They’re braver, they achieve great things, or they’re simply nicer people than me. There’s a lot to admire in fictional characters. Below are the fictional characters I’ve admired the most in my short life:
Now, I could give you a whole list of characters from the Harry Potter franchise that I admire, but I’ll stick to the one. For a studious bookworm like me, who is slightly obsessed with academic performance, who wants to read everything there is, Hermione Granger feels like looking at a mirror. You remember when she brings out the massive book for ‘light reading’ in the first Harry Potter instalment? That’s me. When she was more worried about being expelled than dying? Almost me (You can’t read if you’re dead, Hermione).
So I have a lot in common with Hermione. But that’s not why I admire her. Hermione made childhood me realise that being a ‘geek’ didn’t mean that I couldn’t be other things as well. Hermione has great friends, she’s brave, and she’s principled – remember when she set up SPEW? She left school, what she cares most about, to help her friends (and saves them time and time again), and even erased herself from her parents’ memories to protect them. She saved the world from Voldemort, and then went back to her studies! If I can be half as cool as Hermione is, I’ll be happy.
“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery and — oh Harry — be careful!”
I read Little Women when I was eight after my teacher recommended it to me because she thought – and she thought correctly – that I would love Jo March. Jo loves to read, and she wants to be a writer – and she does it! She feels things deeply, she loves her family and friends dearly, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. I cried when she cut her hair because I wanted to be that brave, and I admit, I still cry a lot when I either read the book or watch a Little Women adaptation. Her actions through the whole series – including the less well-known books that followed Little Women – feels genuine and so admirable. From moving to New York to setting up a school with her inheritance. I think my childhood dream of moving to New York was probably more driven by Jo March than anything else. I’ve maintained for the last ten years that if I ever have a daughter, I will be naming her after Jo. So, thank you to my Year 3 English teacher for changing my life by introducing me to Josephine March!
“You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.”
Brienne of Tarth
I don’t need to explain to you that Game of Thrones is filled with characters with very questionable morals. They act out of greed, revenge, and ambition. But not Brienne! Not only has Brienne survived through years of bullying over her looks and only come out stronger at the other end, but she’s one of the best fighters in the books – a knight for Lord/King Renly. On top of that, Brienne is fiercely loyal. I wish I could be like her. She volunteers to serve Lady Catelyn, and holds herself to that promise even after Catelyn’s death, travelling for about half of the book series, walking up, down, and around Westeros searching for Arya and Sansa Stark. In a world full of spies, lies and backstabbers, it’s nice to see that there are people like Brienne around.
“He said that all his other knights wanted things of him, castles or honors or riches, but all that Brienne wanted was to die for him.”
Jane is another character that’s been through a lot (which is an understatement). She’s strong-willed, opinionated, witty, and an independent woman. Bronte recognised something that people to this day don’t feel comfortable with: a main female character does not have to be unnaturally beautiful to be worth reading. Jane Eyre is explicitly described as plain several times, but that doesn’t stop her story from being one of the best. I love that she always moves on from hardships in her life, from leaving Lowood and finding herself a job, then leaving there upon discovering that her husband was already married and eventually setting up a life for her elsewhere, and then returning back after all of that! She wasn’t willing to sacrifice love, but she also wasn’t willing to sacrifice herself for it.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”
When I read Far From The Madding Crowd, I was astounded by Bathsheba Everdene. She was like no female character I had ever read, and especially none from 19th century literature. She is fiercely independent, and when she inherits her uncle’s farm, she is intent to grab the opportunity with both hands and run it herself. She even makes a success of it. She is smart, but not without flaws; she still makes mistakes, she’s proud, and acts without thinking at times, but these are what makes her feel real. At the beginning, she says that she would only marry someone who could tame her, and at the end we all know that that’s not possible. I admired not only her independence, but the way that she dealt with emotional blows and came back from them, constantly proving people wrong.
“I shall be up before you are awake; I shall be afield before you are up; and I shall have breakfasted before you are afield. In short, I shall astonish you all.”
Leisel Meminger – The Book Thief
Elle Woods – Legally Blonde
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
Lagertha – Vikings
Sybil Crawley – Downton Abbey
Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables
Apologies for the many deserving characters I’ve left out.
Who are your fictional role models? Comment below.