Friday, December 7, 2012

"I like this character"

Therapist and I were talking recently about characters in a book and how we like them.

"I like Amy in Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRLicon," she said.

"You like Amy?", I said. "I didn't really like her," I replied.

"I liked her as a character," she said.

"Ah." I paused. "Interesting distinction," I said. "It seems that when people talk about 'liking a character', they are talking about whether they like the character as a person. They are talking about whether they would want to be friends with that character, not necessarily that the character was written well."

"No," she said. "I'm talking about liking the character as it is written in the book. Amy is a brilliant character. Gillian Flynn did such a good job of portraying her motivations and actions, her struggle against being 'Amazing Amy', and how that all played out so diabolically in her relationship with Nick."

"She absolutely did," I agreed.

I've read Gillian Flynn's SHARP OBJECTSicon and DARK PLACESicon. As with GONE GIRLicon, these other books have believable characters that are not necessarily likable people.


Who are your favorite literary characters? And do you like the characters as people? Or are they your favorites because they were created at the hands of a skilled writer?

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  1. Favorite lit characters that I like as they're written: Arturo Bandini from Ask the Dust, Henry Chinaski from Post Office, Morpheus from Sandman, all the characters from Requiem for a Dream... So many...

    The ones I like as people? Well... there's less of those. Shadow from American Gods, Dumbledore, Samwise Gamgee, Agent 355 from Y The Last Man... Those are tougher.

  2. James, after reading your comment I wonder, is it harder to write believable characters that are likable?

  3. Some characters I like because they have characteristics that I wish I possessed. Elizabeth Bennet is an example of that. She has flaws, which make her a believable character, but she stands up for what she believes in and has a strong sense of loyalty. I do agree with James, Shadow is a likable character. I'd want him in my circle of friends.