Books in Babylon

Hiii, it’s me, Clare. Clare who? Oh, you know, the girl with so much free time and so many really really (no, but really) important things to say that she posts semi-regular screeds on Things That Make Her Mad.

And if you thought that might be a category constrained by the boundaries of reality, hoo boy, am I about to blow your Venn diagram wide open (dirty? Who knows?). Because today’s topic is Fictional Characters Who Make Me Want to Go All Fatal Attraction/The Shining in an Intertextual Sort of Way.

I’m reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and I don’t thing I have ever hated, loathed, and generally wanted to pulverize any fictional character so much as Angel Clare. It goes beyond all considerations of reason or literary analysis. Off the top of the head I can think of a few other characters like this, for whom my reaction is so visceral it almost transcends the narrative and gives them a life outside of it.

1. Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter

2. Ashley Wilkes from Gone With The Wind

3. Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary

4. Aunt Norris from Mansfield Park

5. Nellie Olsen from Little Town on the Prairie  (What a bitch.)

6. Jason from Medea (Although it’s more contempt than hatred.)

7. Athena from Ajax

Interestingly, I can’t imagine having this kind of unmixed hatred for any of Dostoevsky’s or Eliot’s characters, which is perhaps a part of their genius? Although Hardy certainly feels some sympathy for Angel Clare, he does not communicate it to me at least. One of the many reasons Hardy fascinates me: his voice so tolerant and forgiving, the effect so bleak and vindictive.

Because we don’t want to get too drunk on the hatorade, here are characters that I love beyond reason, reproach, or analysis.

1. Antonia Shimerda from My Antonia

2. Antigone from Antigone

3. Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (Duh. She’s like the literary equivalent of pop rocks.)

4. The entire Weasly family from Harry Potter

5. Dorothea Causabon from Middlemarch

6. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

7. The Convict from The Wild Palms.

8. Razumihin from Crime and Punishment.

9. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre

10. Lucy Snowe from Villette

10. Cimorene from Dealing With Dragons.

I think this sampling reveals a few things:

a)I was way too tempted to include my favorite American Girl Doll characters on this list.

b) Many more absolutely beloved than absolutely beloathed characters come to mind. This is good.

c) Women are heavily over-represented in both lists. Does this mean that despite the troublesome Smurfette Syndrome in TV and movies, novelists and dramatists have been much better at creating emotionally gripping female characters? Or does it just mean that I am obsessed with women and need to get me to a nunnery or Indigo Girls concert, stat?

d) Anybody wanna have a book-club? Who are your most loved/loathed?


8 thoughts on “Books in Babylon

  1. Yes yes book club! I am embarrassed to say that I have not read several of the books that make your list.

    I blame the IB Program! Wretched Stalinism and “global literature.”

    • I haven’t, but I’m up for it. Shall we? There should be some structure to this setup…

    • ok, I’ve been wanting to start this for forever. Yes, I’m going to post right now with an idea for a structure.

  2. Pingback: Books in Babylon, For Real This Time « Babes in Babylon

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