Wednesday 19 January 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (on a Wednesday!)

Yes, it's another top ten list, woooooo! I might not have bothered doing the top ten list for this week, had it not been so awesome, but it really is. Also, I just really love making lists!

Top Ten Most Inspirational Characters

1. C J Cregg from The West Wing. She's not from a book, but she is possibly my favourite character in anything that has ever existed. C J is the kind of woman I would love to be when I grow up, (full disclosure: I'm 21, which some people may consider grown up, but I beg to differ...) she's so unbelievably smart and good at what she does, and she isn't afraid of anything at all. When Leo chooses her as his replacement over her two equally qualified male co-workers, I dance a little bit inside, since he has clearly seen in her the same things I have, i.e. that she is the best and most crucial part of the Bartlet administration. Also, I will love Allison Janney forever if not longer!

2. Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus is the absolute ultimate moral centre of my world. He truly believes all people are created equal; he supports gun control, or at least control around guns; and he teaches his children the most important things they could possibly learn: about courage, about empathy, and about equality. He's one of those characters that, once the book is finished, I am always disappointed that such an incredible person doesn't actually exist, although Harper Lee apparently based him on her father, so I can choose to believe that essentially, Atticus is real.

3. Dawn Schafer from The Babysitters Club Books by Ann M Martin. If there is one character that I can honestly say has shaped and informed my views from childhood, the honour has to go to Dawn, the BSC's rampant environmentalist. I loved everything about this girl, from the fact that she was from California, to her completely different outlook on the way one should live to all the other girls. I honestly think that my own views on the environment were nudged into being under the influence of Dawn, along with a yearning to visit California that just will not go away (probably because no one has bought me a plane ticket yet... Just sayin'!) So yes, Dawn. Thanks for making me care so damn much about the environment- lets get together and join Greenpeace and be lifelong friends!

4. Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray. She's so enthusiastic and perky, and so wonderfully comfortable in her own skin that it's difficult not to feel inspired by Tracy and her burgeoning career as a dancer. Her colour-blindness is also a wonderful attribute that just makes you love her all the more, and want her to succeed so badly. She inspires me to look at the world from a whole other angle, and I have to say that I like what I find the other way up a lot more than the way everyone else sees things.

5. Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. It's difficult for me to say that I look up to someone who has been charged with statutory rape, but in the novel we see McMurphy in a completely different environment to the one in which that (allegedly) happened. In fact, within the mental hospital, McMurphy flourishes, into someone who is not afraid to challenge a dictatorial authority that doesn't always (in fact, hardly ever) looks out for the best interests of the patients. What happens to him is one of the biggest crimes in literature (although I won't spoil it for you because you really should read it if you haven't), but it doesn't take away from the things we learn from him: that you have to stand up for what is right even if it will cause more trouble for you, just because it's the right thing to do, and especially if the other people being damaged by it are unable to stand up for themselves. One other thing: Nurse Ratched? Worst. Nurse. Ever.

6. Eddie Dean from The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. Oh God, she's going on about Stephen King again, stop her, quick! But really, I know that lots of people would probably find Roland a more inspirational figure from this series, but Eddie is the one character that changes most dramatically over the course of the series, and a capacity for self-improvement is, I find, one of the most admirable and inspiring traits in another person. 

7. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Beth used to be my favourite sister, and I do still adore her, but much as Beth does, I look up to Jo as my example of how I should live. She is courageous, self-sacrificing, creative and extremely strong, and if when I am 30 I am anything like her as a 15 year old, then I'll be doing something right. 

8. Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You. I can't even tell you how much I used to idolise Kat when I was younger, and to some extent I still do! She is so certain in herself and her beliefs, and so unconcerned with other people's opinions of her that it's difficult not to be impressed by such a self-assured woman. Extra points also go to her for being incredibly smart, and for standing up to her sexual harasser in the most painful way possible ("'I hear his testicle retrieval operation went quite well by the way'"!)

9. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Yes, I know. Boring. And to be honest, in modern terms I wouldn't exactly hold her up as an example, but in the context of the novel, she is unconcerned with what is expected of her (turning down two offers of marriage when, *gasp* she is already 20 years old) that it's difficult not to consider her the archetype of the woman I would like to be if I lived in the early nineteenth century.

10. Belize from Angels in America by Tony Kushner. There aren't too many examples of a good way to live your life in Angels in America, but Belize always seems like the most reasonable and level headed character in the play, with the added bonus of caring for Prior (who I unashamedly adore) in the way that Louis cannot. He is an incredibly good role model to have, especially considering his ability to accept the realism of the world, again as opposed to Louis. 

So, there's my list. Have you ever been inspired by a fictional character?

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