Thursday, February 28, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Heroine

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

Human nature is full of complexities. No one is perfect. No one is above making mistakes, and no one is liked by everyone. We each have our insecurities and fears. We have our ticks and eccentricities. Our lives are filled with obstacles we each must overcome. Our journeys are very different; our experiences are our own. And yet, we are more alike than we think, and we are not nearly as different from one other as we might sometimes believe. I am reminded of this every time I open a book. Even as I step into the pages of a world completely different than my own and into the life of someone whose experiences I cannot fathom, it is rare that I do not find some common ground with the characters I read about.

People, their thought processes, emotions, and behavior have always fascinated me. I imagine that this is in part what helped determine my career path and influences my reading choices. I enjoy seeing the process unfold: what makes a character tick, exactly what they think and feel and to better understand why he or she makes certain choices.

Where I am in my life plays a part in the types of characters I may be drawn to. As a teenager, I was drawn most to the outcast or perhaps the one who sat on the edges looking in. For many years it was important for me to like the lead characters in a way I might like a friend. That is less important to me today. Certainly for a book to work for me, I have to feel some sort of connection with the lead character, but that connection is less defined nowadays in the sense of seeing things in terms of black and white. I am better able to see the gray areas today and understand them more fully. I would like to think that I also am more open minded and more willing to step outside of my comfort zone.

In recent years, I find I am most drawn to female lead characters that come across as real. They share the same complexities and humanness as every day people. They are flawed and vulnerable, and yet also intelligent and strong. I have a preference for strong leading ladies who can take care of themselves and do not need a man to come to their rescue at every turn (although once in a while is okay). Give me a little edge and moxie any day, but please no arrogance as that is sure to turn me off rather quickly. If she's bookish too, all the better! This is a lot how I would like to see myself in some respects, and, in others, what I aspire to be. Characters that come to mind instantly and who have stayed with me include Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Kinsey Millhone, Margaret Hughes, and Morgaine. Each of them has an inner strength and a mind of her own; not to mention the stories they inhabit are enduring.

That isn't to say that I do not enjoy reading about other types of characters. I most certainly do. Variety is the spice of life, right? And who knows what type of character will sway me more than others ten years down the road.

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

15 comments:

  1. Well said, Wendy!

    I'm with you about the characters you listed except Margaret Hughes and Morgaine.

    Hope you've a great Friday! It's weekend for me tomorrow. ;)

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  2. Wow! I think you have the most comprehensive answer I've read so far! :-) I agree with you about the arrogance; that is one of the quickest ways to turn me off!

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  3. Great answer--and great characters you've chosen!

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  4. Thanks, Melody! I overdid it, I think, but it's what came out when I started writing. :-)

    I hope you have a nice weekend too!

    Trish - My fingers got a little carried away there on the keyboard. LOL Arrogance rides me wrong every time. I don't like it in real people either.

    Gentle Reader - Thank you. I almost did not list any characters at all, thinking I'd take the easy way out, but it was hard to ignore the characters that kept coming immediately to mind. They can get pretty loud sometimes. ;-)

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  5. Nicely put! I'm less enthused w/Kinsey Milhone as the series went on but she was a character.

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  6. Most of my fellow Grafton readers agree with you about the series. I think my husband and I are the only two people who think the series keeps getting better. Haha

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  7. Your answers are always so well thought out. Mine are just whatever pops into my head! Great answer.

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  8. Chris - My first thought when I read the BTT question for the week is usually, "Oh! I have nothing to say on this topic. I'll skip it." But then as I'm rushing to handle crises and put out fires at work, the ideas start coming.

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  9. I really enjoyed reading your answer, as always :)

    And it got me thinking that what draws me to a character has really changed over the years. When I was younger, my favourite characters were ones I could easily identify with. These days, my favourite kind of literature is the kind that puts me in the shoes of characters who are completely different from me, and makes me experience their emotions, see the world from their eyes.

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  10. Thanks, Nymeth! I think you make a very good point. I think that plays a part in what I read more today than I did back then.

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  11. Wendy, I should've made myself clearer in my previous comment. When I said ... 'except Margaret Hughes and Morgaine', I meant I just haven't read them yet. Oops... ;)

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  12. Oh, it's okay, Melody! I knew what you meant. :-)

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  13. I'm not familiar with any of the heroines you listed, but I agree with Jane Eyre though. Great choice

    Sorry for posting late, but thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you come back and visit me again soon! Have a good day!

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  14. Wonderful answer! My heroines have changed over the years as I have changed and grown. Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet are a couple of my favorites as well!

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  15. Jane Eyre has been a favorite of mine for so long now. And never apologize for posting any time at all. It's never too late! :-)

    Jaimie - Thank you. Isn't it interesting to look back and see where we have been in terms of books?

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