July 25, 2010

Top Ten: Favorite Male Literary Characters

This is a meme hosted by Random Ramblings in which we list our top ten choices for a certain topic. This round is male literary characters, and my first time participating! So, with no further ado (and not in any particular order):

1.) Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice

Okay, so I had to include him. Who wouldn't? He's the ultimate romantic interest who starts out as an anti-hero and then makes some major changes in his attitude to better himself for Elizabeth's sake. Sure, he's proud and snooty at the beginning, but Elizabeth has her faults too, and I'd argue the greater character development is on Darcy's side. How can you not love the guy who pays off all the debts of the wicked villain who's run off with your vapid sister?

2.) Richard Mayhew of Neverwhere

The back of the book states, "Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart," and that is a large part of what makes him so attractive to the reader. He's an average man who's sucked into the underworld of London, and quite frankly, for most of the journey, he really doesn't want to be there. I loved that about him! Often fantasy novels that involve someone from our modern day being transported to another world or time show them adapting with great ease to their situation (and frequently enjoying themselves soon after their arrival!) Richard Mayhew is the opposite: he is involved against his will and better judgment, and he just wants to go home. This quality makes it easy for the reader to relate to him, and yet, most of the time he doesn't come across as overly whiny. Richard is only in this mess because he stopped to help an injured girl on the sidewalk, and he did that out of the goodness of his heart. Faced with a London he never dreamt existed, he meets the challenges as best he can, demonstrating loyalty and courage - and in the end I think he grows to prefer his unpredictable adventures below London to his static, normal life above.

3.) Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre

Yes, the brooding Byronic hero makes an appearance here. He's intriguing, cynical, passionate, and secretive in a way that makes us long to know more. Perhaps I wouldn't really care to hang out with him in real life - at least not until his attic had been cleared of all wives - but in fiction, hey, why not? And in the end, he really does get thoroughly punished for all the lying he did to poor Jane.

4.) Frodo of Lord of the Rings

He's the classic underdog who has a heavy burden thrust upon him, and he really does astonishingly well, all things considered. Frodo matures considerably through the story arc, from the foolish country boy who carelessly wears the ring of invisibility when he shouldn't, to the courageous hobbit struggling against all odds to face down the epitome of evil, risking the corruption of his soul in the process. I think it is this transformation (and the fact that he really is the smartest of all four hobbits) that makes Frodo such a likeable protagonist to root for.

5.) Thomas Schofield of Sorcery and Cecelia

The odious Marquis of Schofield is such an appealing character. He has just the right balance of good and bad qualities, and his sense of humour is wonderfully sarcastic. Most importantly, you can count on him to always come through when others depend on him (and you can also count on the fact that he will gloat about it later!)

 6.) Mendanbar of Searching for Dragons

Mendanbar's the king who doesn't really enjoy kingship - the social niceties, the administrative duties, the schmoozing with delegations. He's smart, diplomatic, and likes to think things through rather than making a snappy but poor decision. Mendanbar's actually rather modest for a ruler, which is nice for a change, and he doesn't mind admitting when he's wrong (well, at least, not much). The one thing he is proud about is his connection to the Enchanted Forest - and why shouldn't he be? He understands it better than anyone else can. Cimorene has such a strong personality, which Mendanbar counters well with his more understated one - but he's not afraid to speak his mind when necessary.

7.) Taran of The High King (and the other Prydain Chronicles, but this one's my favorite)

I love seeing the confident, mature, intelligent Taran in this novel (as opposed to previous books in the series, where he is sometimes quite foolish). It's great seeing his character develop, of course, but the end result is even better! He's loyal to his friends, he understands compromise and loss, he's got a big heart, and he is a fabulous leader. What's not to like?

 8.) Mr. Tilney of Northanger Abbey

Well, I'm an Austen fan, so more than one Austen character was bound to pop up. There are too many to choose from, but Tilney's one of my favorites. He's got an eye for irony as well as muslin, a charming manner, and he's willing to stand up on the dance floor (unlike Mr. Darcy...). All right, so he's flawed - he makes fun of Catherine's wild imagination, although it must be said he does have a bit of a point - but so are the best characters, right?

9.) David of Uglies/Pretties/Specials

David's an admirable character simply because he never gives up on Tally. She starts out average - in looks, in social status, although she's smart and gutsy - and he likes her. Then she becomes model gorgeous, ditzy, and falls in love with another guy (I never really saw the attraction of Zane, apologies to his fans) and he still holds out hope. And then she turns Special, acquiring the latest in cutting-edge technology in her body and an icy, predatory personality with a ruthless streak - and his loyalty to her does not falter. He's now her enemy, theoretically, and yet he never harms her when he can help it; to him she is still the same Tally he fell in love with. That kind of devotion doesn't come along very often.

10.) Gabriel of Archangel

Gabriel's a bit of a Mr. Darcy, but in angel form. He's extremely self-assured, has a keen sense of justice, and has a habit of ordering others around and being obeyed. However, he is very much the gentleman; he doesn't seek love elsewhere even though there is none to be found (at first...) in his arranged marriage. His constant arguments with his wife cause him to undergo important character developments, and by the end of the novel he is a good deal better at listening to others and considering things from more than one perspective (although he does retain a bit of a bossy streak, I think). Nevertheless, by the end his good qualities far outweigh the bad - he's loyal (I think that's a theme throughout this list!), passionate about bettering his country and doing his utmost as Archangel, and determined to win over his wife Rachel's heart no matter what it takes. And it takes a lot, because Rachel is prouder than he is and scared to let herself get close to anyone. Indeed, I felt sorry for Gabriel by the end; as Rachel's friend puts it, "I look at you and Gabriel, and I see a man who has made himself over because he loves a woman. And I see a woman who has shunned the man at every turn." Really, Rachel doesn't appreciate what she's got!

So, thoughts? Agree? Disagree?


  1. Wow, I love your list! It features many great male characters! Richard Mayhew is a great character, I almost totally forgot about him, but I really loved him while reading "Neverwhere". Great list!

  2. Oh I am absolutely in love with Mr. Rochester. On the top10 literary couples, he was on the list together with Jane Eyre. He's definitely my favorite male character in the 'Classics' genre. Wonderful to have you with us this week, Danya!

  3. Hello! I wanted to stop by and say thanks for hopping by my blog! I LOVE this list! I haven't read all of the books you mentioned, but I'm a HUGE Austen & Bronte junkie and I'm so excited to see several of their heroes making an appearance on this list! There really is no one like Darcy, is there? *swoon* ;-) I'm really glad to see Mr. Tilney on here too! I've heard a lot of people say they find him annoying, but I think they're just missing the brilliancy of his sarcasm. I ADORE Tilney =) Great list!

  4. Excited that Mr Tilney made an appearance on the list-I feel like he's overlooked a lot but he's my second favorite Austen hero!

  5. Yay for Mr Darcy and David (Uglies)!! They both deserve to be on the list.

  6. I love Mr. Darcy! I need to read the Uglies series, I can't believe I haven't yet! Love your list :)

  7. The 2007 NA with JJ Feild is one of my favorite Austen adaptations. My favorite hero is actually Mr Knightley excepting the huge age difference between him and Emma. Third is Captain Wentworth but Darcy is a very close fourth.

  8. Wow, cool list! I don't think I could possibly come up with a list myself. My goodness! How do you know where to start?

  9. I haven't read any of Sandition; do you have a recommendation for a version?

  10. What a diverse list! How ever did you decide on those 10! I've read the classic books and then Uglies and I agree with those choices. I will have to check out those other books on the list as well!


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