The world of fiction is full of names— memorable or forgettable, famous or notorious— that define the personality of the character portrayed in the story. They may be the protagonist or the antagonist but their name has withstood the test of time to become an embodiment of human attributes. We, in the real world, sometimes name those characters as the perfect example of a particular or many human trait(s), be it greed, ego, hope, intelligence, etc. It is thereby difficult to sift through the countless fictional characters that were created by renowned authors over a long period of time. However, TopYaps brings to you a list of ten such immortals who we still remember as the best who defined that particular quality we may or may not find in ourselves.
“To be or not to be, that is the question”: Perhaps the most bewildered character in all of English literature. Shakespeare created this self-doubting prince who meets a sad end. Hamlet, the eponymous character of the tragic play, describes the perplexed nature many of us are burdened with. Should we place him on this spot or move him somewhere else? Should we keep him on this list? Hey, we are confused!
The illustrious resident of 221-B, Baker Street, London needs no introduction. When we speak of detectives, this character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, towers over any other fictional detective created till date. The typical character of Holmes, as described by an equally famous sidekick Dr. Watson, is that of a seemingly laid back, opium-smoking man who shows a sudden burst of energy whenever a case comes across. Over the years, Holmes has become the personification of intelligence, astuteness and deduction. To quote the never written words: “Amazing! My dear Holmes”, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
When Ian Fleming created Bond, he hardly could have imagined the stardom his fictional character would eventually go on to achieve. 007 (his code with the Mi6) James Bond describes a stolid human being having no qualms in junking off his adversaries like trash. He is equally famous for his womanizing ways and, strangely enough, loved for treating them as objects of pleasure in his quest to protect the Queen. An emotionless patriot licensed to kill, should we say? Maybe not all of us are like him but there are many who possess this unique human attribute.
It is believed that this titular fictional character in the third part of The Three Musketeers series was originally a man named Eustache Dauger who died on November 19, 1703 in France, under the reign of King Louis XIV (1643-1715). In the book, the character, Philippe, is presented as the twin brother of the King who is imprisoned since birth. Philippe is a character that defines gloom. He failed to achieve his rightful place – that on the throne of France – even after he gets an opportunity. However, he can take solace in blaming fate for never being on his side just like many of today’s generation.
Love, too, is a human characteristic and only Quasimodo qualifies to hold this position for he openly displays this attribute. A Victor Hugo creation, Quasimodo is the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. He is the ugly looking bell-boy in the church who is in love with Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. The girl is in love with another character. The end is tragic, as is usual with all one-sided love stories. The effect of love on a human being has been shown in a fitting manner in both Quasimodo and Esmeralda. Traits of kindness and generosity as well as jealousy and cruelty, all out of love, Quasimodo shows it all.
A man full of ego and excessive preoccupation with his own appearance, so much so, that a whole disorder— the DGS syndrome — has been named after this character. When Oscar Wilde created Dorian Gray, he addressed the hedonistic idea of the then society. Even today, we have many ‘Dorian Gray’(s) around us who can go to any length to keep themselves look refreshingly beautiful. Dangerous, far too dangerous than the character itself.
Every man has two faces; people still believe in this saying. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde prove that belief albeit in fiction. They, together, demonstrate the existence of dual personalities found in all of us. While the doctor highlights the sobriety present in us, Mr. Hyde is the embodiment of our darker side. Robert Louise Stevenson leaves us with a tricky choice. If we choose to be Dr Jekyll, we shall be able to live a normal life but that shall mean subduing the evil in us which will find a way out far more threateningly than if we allow it to prevail alongside. Choosing evil is definitely bad. The unending battle thus continues.
The protagonist of Earnest Hemingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea, who battles old age, loneliness and fast loosing pride within his community to emerge victorious. The character resembles many in our society who have either been left alone or retired but have not given up on life. The story tells us that people should not write off the weakened hands for they may still have the power to guide us, given their experience and persistence, two very essential characteristics found in Santiago.
Charles Dickens created this fictional character and weaved around him a story that some say is his own semi-autobiography. Thus, David Copperfield is closer to us and our traits in real life. There is no special aspect to his personality. He is just the guy-next-door who allows fate do all the talking and that is precisely why he is on this list. Being ordinary, too, is a human attribute.
Edmond, who? Oh, he is popularly known as The Count of Monte Cristo! The man— sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment at Château d’lf on a false implication — who designs his escape from the prison and takes revenge on all those who conspired him out of their way. The story of Edmond Dantês is the transformation of an ordinary, little-learned young boy into a wise and respected man. He personifies ‘hope’ which we believe is the front runner of all human attributes. Willpower is the greatest element to his personality. In the end when he says, “Wait and hope”, we have a few treasured words of wisdom.