There’s a social media challenge circling the Internet right now that has caught my book-loving eye. Instagram and Twitter are full of three-picture collages as users are challenged to describe themselves in three fictional characters.
As an English major, one of my favorite things to do is to analyze and deconstruct characters, so I jumped right on this bandwagon.
What three fictional characters describe me best?
That deceptively simple question led to a conversation with some of my housemates that kept us up well past our bedtimes. We began to dissect our own identities and the identities of some of our most beloved fictional characters.
We quickly realized that fictional characters are interesting works of art. Some are well crafted and real, while others have about as much personality as my cardboard cutout of Ron Weasley.
Humans are complex beings, with deep feelings and motivations, so characters that reflect that depth are often the ones we connect with the most, even if we’re not exactly like them.
So, instead of recalling the three fictional characters that describe me best, here are three of the fictional characters I consider to be some of the best.
1. Hermione Granger.
Hermione Granger is the main female protagonist in the Harry Potter series. Since I finished the series just this month, she’s a fresh face on my list. Hermione is smart, brave and compassionate. She’s a strong, independent character who also shows emotions and dependence. She grows from an “insufferable know-it-all”—at least in some peoples’ opinions—in the first book of the series to the glue that holds the series’ main trio together.
Hermione is the only character on my favorites list that also appears on my list of characters that define me. We share a passion for learning and a deep love of books.
I admire Hermione for many reasons and I wish I would’ve been introduced to her earlier in my life. Hermione has encouraged thousands of girls across the world to be themselves and find friends that accept them for who they are. She has showed it is OK to love books and studying, but that ultimately friendship and bravery are most important.
2. Atticus Finch.
When I had to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee during my junior year of high school, I wasn’t expecting to discover one of my favorite books. But the book’s themes and characters captured me from the start.
Atticus is probably one of the most famous literary fathers. He is patient, understanding, and, most important, he stands up for what is right, even when it’s not popular.
Atticus ranks at the top of many “best fictional characters” because he represents morality and reason. He knows what is right and acts on that knowledge, even though it makes him very unpopular.
For decades, Atticus has inspired readers to stand for morality and common sense. He reminds us that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Side note: I have not, and will not, read, “Go Set a Watchman.” I started it and, after reading the first chapter, I haven’t returned. My opinions of Atticus are based on his characterization in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which I believe was how Harper Lee wanted it.
3. Lizzie Bennet.
From Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Lizzie Bennet is one of my favorite fictional characters that is least like me. She is strong, witty and willing to speak her mind. Her bold personality is very different from my quiet one, and I love her character because of that.
In the 21st century, women read Jane Austen’s work from a very different perspective than her original audience would have. We cheer on Lizzie’s defiance against the societal norms of her time. We admire Lizzie’s strong personality in comparison to her sister Jane’s and her friend Charlotte’s seemingly weak ones.
Lizzie stands as a role model for girls to stand up for themselves and defy oppressive societal standards. She is a flawed character who is full of, as the title would suggest, pride and prejudice. As with any fictional character, her flaws make her real and even more relatable.
These three characters are definitely some of my favorites because of their impact on readers. They have encouraged us to be smart, moral and bold. And I truly believe these characters, along with so many others, have transcended the world of literature to make the real world a better place.