This was a hard top-ten list to put together, seeing as how there are so many good characters to choose from from so many good books I've read. But if I had to choose the ones that pop into my mind first, that list is below. Who are your favorite fictional characters?
1) The Monster - Frankenstein - No, Frankenstein is the name of the scientist in the book. Not to take anything away from the movie or from the Young Frankenstein parody, but this is one of many examples of where the book just out performs the film. The monster is a tragic creature, abandoned by its creator to fend for itself in the wild. No one dares go near it, much less give it love, and so it resorts to hunting down and killing those closest to the one who brought it into this life. The only one, ironically that showed the monster any kind of compassion was a blind man, who could 'look' past its physical appearance.
2) Lennie - Of Mice and Men - George is likewise an interesting character, and the book is actually filled with a number of characters that forever stick in your brain like Curly, Curly's wife, Candy, and Crooks, but it's Lennie that is really the most memorable. He's the gentle giant, who just wants to pet some rabbits. But he needs George there to keep him grounded in reality. When he's confronted with Candy in the barn, he doesn't know where reality starts and ends with brushing her hair. We hate that George mercy kills him, but we understand why he does it.
3) Harry Potter - Harry Potter Series - At the heart of this character is a boy who lives on ordinary Privet Drive and thought it was just as ordinary as the cruel Dursley family. But just as Ron and Hermione later discover, it shows us there is magic in all of us, and that good can overcome evil. Harry is the glue that binds his friends together and sticks up for what he believes in. As he matures as a character, we grow up with him. He truly is one of the greatest literary characters of all time.
4) Iago - Othello - Iago might just be the best villain in all of literature, and he didn't even kill anyone throughout the entire play. His manipulative scheme to bring down Othello and then Desdemona while using Roderigo, his wife Emilia, and Cassio was brilliance. He tangled web after web of lies to get what he wanted. He played the perfect Two-Face, and to me, he was the most interesting character in the play.
5) Bigger - Native Son - Bigger is a character that you are meant to both empathize with and feel angry toward. He becomes a product of his racial segregated environment, and even though he is taken in by a nice white family, it doesn't deter the subtle racism that he endures. And yet, what he does to a member of that family is still unforgivable. In the pages that follow, we both mourn for that family and for Bigger as his character is just as complex as the themes in the story.
6) Beloved - Beloved - In keeping with African-American Lit, the ghost of the no-name baby Beloved is a strange but interesting character. She holds a powerful grasp over her mother and symbolically, on black society. At first, the family is forced to take care of her, but as she stays in the house more, she becomes the dominant one. Morrison's writing of Beloved shows that the black people need to both remember their roots and move on to a new chapter in life.
7) Annie Wilkes - Misery - There are a lot of Stephen King characters that I could add to this list, but the one that I think makes my top list of characters is Annie Wilkes. In a novel that largely takes place in the same room between two characters, Annie plays a bipolar crazed fan and plays it so well, you feel that you are actually confined in the room with her. She's unpredictable, and you are meant to feel what writer and protagonist Paul Sheldon feels as he lays there helpless as her hostage. The book and movie are equally great.
8) Alaska - Looking for Alaska - Alaska Young is a mystery girl throughout this entire book, regardless if it's the "Before" section or the "After" section. She continuously hides her true feelings while giving us deep inspirational quotes on how to live our lives. As Miles said, "...thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane." She was the character that both binded their friends and tore them apart, and all the while, she fought demons within her heart. She is definitely a memorable character.
9) Rex - The Glass Castle - Even though this story is written by and is centered around Jeannette Walls, and it could be argued that the mother is just as interesting as the father, I think the father has just a bit of an edge in the interesting character department here. His philosophical ideas about life that weirdly make sense contrast with his life in a delusional, drunken world. He's a character that we want to see redeemed, which is why when he goes sober in the book, we root for him. He means well, but he also does things like offer his daughter to a complete stranger for sex out of spite. We are left with a character at the end of the book that we feel sorry for, and we feel even more sorry for his kids.
10) Ponyboy - The Outsiders - Ponyboy makes for an interesting narrator because he sees all of this conflict and gang activity around him, but he is the academic one, even if he lacks common sense. He is forced to grow up quickly though as his friend Johnny kills a rival gang member in self defense. Ponyboy's older brother Darrel grows a new appreciation for Ponyboy and we see Ponyboy's appreciation of family grow as he nears the book's end.