Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Literary Hero & Heroine: The Classics Club April Meme

Who is hands-down the best literary hero, in your opinion? Likewise, who is the best heroine?

That’s the April prompt of The Classics Club Meme. For me, hero or heroine must be someone who does things that I admire, which I don’t think I’d be capable to do. I don’t have to have a crush on him (for this would lead to some fangirlings :D) or to like her to be my best friend. It’s just that he/she had done something I believe in.

Literary Hero

At first I had some candidates, mostly I picked from my Top Five Book Boy Friends end of last year and from my Classics Character list. Among them: D’Artagnan, Étienne Lantier, Pip, Ralph Touchett, and even Sydney Carton had come to my radar. But choosing most of them would be just fangirling; as for Ralph Touchett and Sydney Carton, to me, they did all they had done because of ‘love of a woman’. Not that I underrated the power of love, but I really want to pick someone with a greater value than it. And finally I found him!

Ralph from Lord of the Flies

But he’s just an adolescent!—you might have protested :D. Yes, he is an ordinary teenager, and without the incident of being stranded in an uninhabited island, Ralph might always be an ordinary indifferent urban teenager until he’s grown up. But at that certain point, when he was left all alone, betrayed by many of his friends who at first voted him for leading them, when all the others have transferred to be savages, and he won’t have any chance to survive, lonely and terrified; at that critical moment, a teenager he was, Ralph persisted to keep his conscience: ‘Cos I had some sense’. Ralph could simply pretended to join his friends’ tribe to save his life (I think that would be our first instincts); but what makes him my literary hero is that he successfully ignored the temptation and took the risk of losing his life by keeping his conscience. And the fact that he is just a teenager only makes his heroism distinguished from others…. (see also my character analysis on Ralph)

Literary Heroine

It is really more difficult to choose a heroine than a hero, perhaps because back to last centuries women had not been respected as they were in modern era. Or maybe…. Ah..I believe this is the reason—I haven’t read many classics enough about women or women’s struggles! I have tried to bring in mind several female characters, but one that was so prominent is…

Isabel Archer from The Portrait of A Lady

Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer

Now, you might really protest me, as in The Portrait of A Lady, Isabel seemed to be a loser; instead of getting away from her authoritarian husband, Isabel had chosen to return to him. Then how could that makes her a heroine? It is because Isabel had the courage to live a life she detested. And why did she pick that choice? Because Isabel knew she could not leave her husband just like that, being a woman who ran away from her husband; Isabel knew there won’t be a place for her in the society. She had made a choice of her own—although it turned out to be a huge blunder—so she must take the consequences, and made the best of it. In short, Isabel Archer is an intelligent and very brave woman who refused to be defeated by her husband. I believe—although Henry James did not mention it clearly in the book—that after her decision, she would return to her husband as a new woman. Yes, she surrendered herself physically to him, but not mentally. From then on Isabel would never be afraid of him again; Isabel lived her life because she had chosen it, not from fearing of her husband. (see my character analysis on Isabel)

So, who’s your literary hero and heroine?


  1. I have never read Lord of the Flies, but it is on my TBR list. As for adolescent heros: at some point they have to grow up and be men, so when they demonstrate heroic qualities as youths, how much more so will they when adults? That's why I actually chose Tom Sawyer as my second choice.

    1. Yep, but in the case of Ralph here, I believe the experience would change him completely and would make him a better man in the future.

  2. Belum baca dua-duanyaaaaa~ Portrait of A Lady mungkin baru tahun depan malah. Eh, apa tahun ini ya? *bingung*

    1. Sekali-sekali kamu perlu baca tentang heroine dong, jangan fangirling terus... :P

    2. Ayoooo baca Jane Eyre! *ngomporin*

  3. Sama kayak Listra, dua-duanya belum baca. Portrait of a Lady udah ada di timbunan tapi belum tau kapan mau dibaca... timbunan2 yang lain banyak yang lebih menggoda hahaha :D

  4. Ralph from Lord of the Flies really threw me. Way to go for the non-obvious answer! :)

    I agree that Isabelle Archer is certainly very intelligent. I see where you're going with that choice. And I really loved that book...Her character really spoke to me. But I finally decided on Jane Eyre.

    My April Meme

    1. I haven't read jane Eyre, maybe my answer would be have been different if I have? I'll be picking Jane around next year... ;)


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