10 Under-loved Literary Characters
This week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish is all about Characters you hate that others love, or vice-versa. I've gone for the vice-versa - or at least, characters I feel don't get the appreciation they deserve.
Scarlett O' Hara
Scarlett is a terrible human being most of the time - a terrible mother, a terrible wife, sometimes a bad daughter and definitely a bad friend. She's ruthless, mercenary, un-kind and she pretty much hates other women (except for her mother.) She's stupid about Rhett, stupid about Ashley - stupid about people in general. But somehow, even after all that, Margaret Mitchell still makes me like her. Scarlett goes through a lot, from such a young age and I understand every decision she makes, even if I don't like them. She's a survivor, she looks after her own and she never stops fighting. Maybe I don't like her, but I admire her in lots of ways, and sympathise in others.
Jane Austen said that in Emma Woodhouse, she had created a character whom no-one would like but herself - but I think that epithet can be better applied to the heroine of Mansfield Park. Everyone thinks Fanny Price is dull, but I like her. She's quiet but she stands up for herself when it matters most. When she's around people who are actually nice to her (Edmund, her brother, even the Crawfords towards the end) she is interesting. When I read the book, I kind of saw Edmund as the protagonist, with Fanny as the buttons/You Belong with Me style figure, just waiting for him to wake up and realise what he was missing. She's the underdog, and you've got to support the underdog.
Possibly the most controversial name on this list, but I just love Cersei as a character. She's a proper villain, but there's so many layers there. I think most of my love stems from Lena Heady's portrayal in Game of Thrones, because despite the fact that Cersei really is evil, corrupt, malicious and an all around terrible human being, we can see and sympathise with her difficult position as a woman and a mother in a man's world. I mean, everyone's had a hard time of it in Game of Thrones, but the Lannister's are the epitome of a dysfunctional family. Cersei grew up with a cruel father, was practically sold off to a terrible husband and then her son turned out to be some kind of devil spawn. Okay, there's no defending her really, but she's definitely fascinating. My favourite scenes were always those between Cersei and Tyrion - especially if Tywin was around too.
Harry is so rude to this man. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he's just doing his job. And look at things from the minister's point of view - would Harry's presence about the Ministry keep morale up? Yes. Should the Minister for Magic take orders from seventeen year old kids? Well, maybe in this case, but would you think that if you were Scrimgeour? No. Harry might have been Dumbledore's man through and through, but at the end of the day, Dumbledore wasn't the only one to die protecting Harry. And Scrimgeour wasn't the only one to use people.
Everyone forgets about poor Kitty. She's just your average seventeen year old really, but as she's over-shadowed by her more strong-willed sisters, and isn't the typical nerd like Mary, she tends to get left out of a lot of adaptations. Well done then, to Andrew Davies, and the actress who played Kitty in the 1995 version, for making the most of her tiny part and her few great comic lines.
It's been years since I read The Twilight Saga, but one of the characters I always felt deserved a bit more love was Angela, Bella's friend from school. From the films we remember Jessica (the bitchy one) because of Anna Kendrick's scene-stealing turn, but who remembers Angela, the nice, quiet friend who Bella actually gets on really well with, until her life begins to revolve around the Cullens? At least, in the book, Stephanie Meyer gave Angela a nice boyfriend, and there's a cute scene in those Midnight Sun chapters, where Edward and Emmett set them up.
Everyone loves Demelza, and with good reason, but Ross Poldark's first love is nice too, you know. She never asked to be in a love triangle, and Ross was away at war, so what was she supposed to do? Elizabeth is beautiful, intelligent and kind, but she gets a hard time of it - both in the books and from the public. And as the series of books progressed, I realised she was actually the one character I cared about most.
Poor Susan. Peter's least favourite sister. C.S Lewis's favourite whipping boy. The Sansa Stark to Lucy's Arya. But let's look at what she actually does wrong, shall we? She's kind and gentle, she acts too old for her age and she's practical. As a queen, she chooses not to fight in battles and she acts "more like an ordinary grown up woman." And then, when she's told she's too old to come back to Narnia anymore, she grows up, moves on and gets a life. What a terrible person. She obviously deserves to lose her whole family and be offered no sympathy whatsoever.
Yes, I like Peeta. He can do no wrong. But for myself, I'd go for Gale - and it's not about looks, either. He's principled, he believes in his cause and he fights for it. He makes it clear to Katniss that he loves her but he doesn't give her a hard time about Peeta and the Games. He respects her and treats her as an equal. He looks after her family for her, he saves as many people as he can from District 13. And what does he get in return? A terrible (and unfair) accusation put on his head and a years long friendship dismissed without a second thought. He deserved better.
Otherwise known as no-one's favourite Hobbit. Merry is smarter and more principled than Pippin, and more fun than Sam and Frodo. He pretty much convinces the Ents to go to Isengard single handedly, he helps kill the leader of the Nazgul, he's brave and determined to do his bit. But you still like Pippin better, don't you? Maybe because that Gondor armour is so much more flattering.
(Some SPOILERS in comments)