So, it turns out that I left out some character types from my last post! And it’s becoming a tradition for me to publish 2-part posts–and on that note, Part 2 of A Few Note About Christine Daae is coming up, so stay tuned. 🙂
But for now, on to the character types!
The Responsible Eldest Sibling
Without, being over-protective, mind; it is possible to be responsible without being neurotic. Right, siblings of mine?
Anyway, I greatly respect the eldest child who takes the responsibility and power that comes with being the firstborn. Younger siblings are watching, and they will pick up on the attitudes and actions of the eldest. The eldest child also is the first to take on more chores, the first to drive the car, the first to have to balance school and social life, and so on–and therefore, they can help teach those things to the younger kids. Also, I have a thing for protective characters.
Katniss Everdeen fits this category, as does Gale Hawthorne (if you’ve read the books, you know that he has younger brothers and one sister). So does Peter Pevensie, Maedhros from The Silmarillion (to a degree), Rachel Lennox from Dancing Shoes, Roberta from The Railway Children, Ben and Polly Pepper from Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (Ben is the eldest, but he and Polly share the responsibilities of looking after the younger children), Dominick Rigonda from The Island Queen, and Sir Percy Ashwell from Elisabeth Allen’s The Abolitionist.
The Cynical Softie
This is the guy who seems hard, bitter, and tough, “like an India-rubber ball,” as Mr. Rochester says, but who is really a softie at heart, more caring than he lets on, and was perhaps hopeful and idealistic before he got knocked around by life. This doesn’t excuse his behavior, by any means–but it does mean there’s more to him than meets the eye. And it means the potential for redemption as well.
Sydney Carton is probably the poster boy for this type, but Mr. Rochester fits the bill too. Puddleglum from The Silver Chair also fits this category; he isn’t exactly cynical, though he does believe in taking a serious view of life. But he looks after Jill and Eustace with determination and puts very odd twists of cheerfulness on the situation–because one good thing about being stuck underground is that you don’t get any rain.
To be honest, I fit the category of softhearted cynic. ‘Cause life is a total bed of roses, don’t you know. But even in this sin-cursed world, there is hope and light and happiness. And I love those ever-optimistic characters who remind me (and readers) of that truth.
The optimist is the guy who can’t be discouraged for very long. He always hopes–always, even after being disappointed multiple times. He may develop a slightly less rose-colored view of the world as the story goes on, but he refuses to be beaten down and given into despair. He can always find a reason to be cheerful–and a reason to persevere.
Sam Gamgee is definitely one example; Pippin Took is another; and Bilbo Baggins has shades of this in The Hobbit. Other characters of this type are Caspian and Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Outgoing & Bookish
This is the character who is definitely an extrovert, but who isn’t the empty-headed, party kid stereotype. On the contrary, this characters loves to be around other people, but loves to read and learn just as much. They handle their problems, goals, hobbies, and conflicts differently than the introverted characters–but they are no less intelligent and focused.
Unfortunately, I can’t think too many characters who fit this label except the ones I’ve written (writers–be nicer to extroverts, please.) I consulted with Gingersnap, and she came up with Nim from the movie Nim’s Island (yes, it’s a book too, but I’ve seen only the movie). Edmund Pevensie also fits this type–he’s stated outright to have read several detective novels, but he also is the sort to say what’s on his mind. And then after the events of Prince Caspian, Caspian himself is far more outgoing than he once was, but he was also bookish to a degree when young. Also Jane Porter from the Disney cartoon Tarzan and Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey. And Anne from Anne of Green Gables.
The Sharp Wit
Have I mentioned I love a sharp wit? From the outgoing sassmasster to the deadpan snarker, I love quick-minded characters. This guy is never at a loss for words, but rather than being a blabbermouth, his lines are clever and witty. And he often makes a good point about the situation (though his remarks can easily turn into complaining). No matter what situation or argument you throw at this guy, he can fire back an answer and usually dismantle your point in the process.
Tony Stark fits the outgoing sassmaster type (though he does overlap with Deadpan Snarker as well), and so does Legolas from The Lord of the Rings (this may come as a surprise–but read his dialogue again. He’s not exactly the subtle, deadpan type!). Also Peter Parker/Spiderman, and Anakin Sykwalker.
More character than I can name fit the deadpan snarker category: Haymitch Abernathy, Sydney Carton, Captain America, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner, Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, Edmund Pevensie, Aragorn, Merry, sometimes Gandalf, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Selena Kyle, The Phantom of the Opera, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Eames and Arthur from the film Inception, and so many others that I can’t recall all their names.
And believe me, I write this type of character too.
The Reasonable Authority Figure
Authorities get a bad rap in fiction, don’t they? They’re often overbearing, un-listening, and always block the protagonist’s path. If they’re fat and they have a mustache, you know they’re a bad guy. And if he’s a bigwig in charge of a lot of companies/employees/whatever, he’s bound to let it go to his head.
Which is why I love the reasonable authority figure. He is dedicated to his job, but also willing to listen to the protagonist. (Which is no easy feat; lest’s face it, the trouble protagonists run into are often really, really hard to prove and convince others of.) And though he’s patient with the main character, he will not hesitate to call out our hero if he’s being a jerk.
James Green from Mercy Street fits this type. So does Doctor Thorne from the TV drama of the same name (yes, I know it’s a Trollope novel too, but I haven’t read it). Alfred Pennyworth (from The Dark Knight trilogy) is a reasonable authority figure, as is Jarrod Barkley and Victoria Barkley from The Big Valley.
So there you have it! What are your favorite character types? Are there any others you’d add to these categories?