The fictional heroes who invade the dreams of book loving women!
Amongst the many benefits of being a bookworm is the freedom to escape into the alternate reality of the book in front of us and live the momentary fairytale we find ourselves in. In that parallel universe we find characters of all shapes, shades and sizes – charming, curious, quirky, delightful and sometimes just too gorgeous to ignore!
Ask a book-loving girl who her first crush was, or who she is currently lusting after, and chances are she will name a literary hero. It sometime seems to me that the world of bibliophiles is populated with women who want the men in their lives to be splitting images of Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice or Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind.
Are there no other literary heroes who have managed to invade the dreams of book loving women? We asked around and got some fascinating responses.
Srikanta in Srikanta by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Nidhi Vats, who teaches post graduate students at the Department of English, University of Delhi, says:
“In Sharatchandra, Srikanta becomes the medium of the emancipation of society’s views towards women in a novel which was written a hundred years ago. He is not a larger than life character but then, he is the one who helps the reader to flow through the stream of the novel and makes u understand the worthlessness of social orders and fake moral views.”
Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice & Fire (A Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin
How much does Peter Dinklage have to do with the immense popularity of Tyrion Lannister – an anti-hero of sorts given that he is a physically deformed dwarf who has to go through life bearing the twin burdens of general ridicule and his own family’s hatred of him? But what the youngest Lannister scion lacks in looks and height, he more than offsets with his craftiness and razor’s wit. Heck, Tyrion Lannister could talk Death out of quitting his profession!
Pompita Sarkar can’t stop gushing about Tyrion as she declares::
“Because of his cunning and not-giving-a-damn attitude amidst so much tension and killing going on in the entire series and his sense of humour Tyrion is special. With all the slaughtering and raping and dirty politics going on all around, this little man has kept his audience alive by the sheer force of his brilliant humour. His dialogues crack me up, which is a relief given that the intense plot of GOT has the ability to churn both hemispheres of brains at 550 revolutions per minute!
Why do I find him so compelling? Because in spite of his physical appearance, his (excessive) fondness for wine, his inability to spend thriftily and his lack of warrior-muscle in the war-field, he always gives himself a chance. His intellect, quick wit, humour, friendliness, excellent judgement, the will to survive, gumption and grit, all make sure that he sustains the readers/ audiences’ interest. It’s not like Tyrion is perfect. Tyrion is more of us. He is awesome. And who wouldn’t want to grab a drink (or two) with Awesome?”
Her favourite Tyrion-ism:
Image courtesy: HBO
Shiva from The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi
Amish’s Shiva Triology has been a superhit with Indian readers, and the popularity of leading hero Shiva may have something to do with it. Sashwati Barua Tarafdar who is a home-maker and a voracious reader says:
“Shiva’s character is complete in all its weaknesses and strengths, the ideal counterpart for any woman.”
Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
No surprises here – the dark Heathcliff has always been a popular literary hero with female readers (and possibly served as the inspiration for the Tall Dark Brooding Mills & Boon prototype). Saumya Kulshreshtha, a blogger, poet, writer and editor based out of New Delhi, says,
“Typically Byronic, I would love a man like Heathcliff to love me with an intensity that dissolves every other aspect of life”.
Howard Roark from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
His unbending determination and the strength of his principles has managed to set the hearts of many young women aflutter. Piyashi Bhttacharya, an engineer who is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration from University of Missourie, remarks:
“Howard Roark refuses to conform to norms, or to imitate conventional work. But his character also offers a stark reality check. When he destroys a building he designed because he had to conform to conventional norms, we are reminded that excessive non-conformity can lead to negation.”
Gregor from Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Gregor is an unlikely literary hero, and so all the more noteworthy. Mandavi Choudhary, a writer who is pursuing her Masters in English Literature, says:
“I can see myself changing too, I identify with him and I realise that all of us are Gregors in some way or the other.”
Arjuna from The Mahabharata by Ved Vyasa
A literary crush from a centuries-old epic? Not so surprising when the character happens to be Arjuna, the most interesting of the Pandava brothers. He is one of the foremost warriors of his time – you can’t but gasp when he hits the eye of the rotating fish without even looking at it during Draupadi’s swayamvara – but he is also conflicted about fighting his own clansmen. And therein lies his appeal. Manju Goswami, a home-maker, social activist and cultural organiser based in Guwahati, says:
“Arjun is amazing because of his self-righteous behaviour and especially his sincerity towards his mother.”
Henry Chinaski from Women by Charles Bukowski
Bukowski is one of those rare writers who understands the complex world of women as well as the act of writing. His unflinching gaze into the soul of human misery elicits dismay and amazement in equal measure. Nandita Goswamee, a recent post- graduate in History and a passionate seeker, says:
“Henry Chinaski is an unconventional man. He admires a woman quite unusually. He is an infidel commonly but his infidelity is also quite unusual.”
Karna from The Mahabharata by Ved Vyasa
Karna garners the respect and sympathy of his readers because of the challenges and ridicule he faced due to his assumed low birth and his deep loyalty to Duryodhana even in times of adversity and moral doubts. Trishneela Borkakoty, a Bharatnatyam danseuse and teacher at Gandharv Mahavidyalay based in New Delhi, says:
“I feel he was righteous as well as generous and, most of all faithful.”
Author as Literary Crush
Sometimes, the author himself becomes “the man of my dreams” for women readers. Lovita J R Morang, a poet, writer, film maker, actor and flautist, says:
“The great Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen for his experimental social thoughts and choices. His great connections to Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore,who gave him the name as Amartya, also is inspiring.”
Vladimir in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
My personal choice is this absurd hero from Samuel Beckett’s iconic play. He is the perfect representation of most of us “modern intellectuals”, the ones who, on the one hand, are trying to battle Nihilism, and on the other, are constantly searching for meaning and purpose in life.
These are just a handful from the multitude of literary heroes who speak to us, drive us down some strange alleys and startle us with their unique personalities. While many female readers begin to have higher expectations from men as the standard is set by the likes of Mr. Darcy, some covertly keep hoping for the manifestation of their ideal literary hero into reality!