Top Ten Tuesday – Ten All-Time Favourite Characters in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by Broke and the Bookish.

I’ve never participated in this meme before, but I couldn’t resist it when I saw it pop up today on my Google Reader. As difficult as it was, I’ve managed to narrow the list down to these ten characters:

10. Humbert Humbert (Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita)
Yes, I’m well aware that Humbert is a paedophile; yes, I’m aware he’s also a murderer; no, I don’t endorse either. But the genius of Nabokov’s prose spins a villain into one whom we can’t help but pity, and subsequently feel terribly guilty about doing so. Humbert’s web of lies and deception is so skillfully spun that he succeeds in fooling himself, taking the audience down with him.

9. Veralidaine Sarrasri (Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals quartet)
Daine has always been my favourite of Pierce’s characters. Despite the strength of her powers, she’s also extraordinarily sensitive and considerate of the animals with whom she communicates. She doesn’t take that relationship for granted, and on several occasions, puts their well-being above her own, which I find highly commendable. I also love the dynamics of her relationship with Numair (and I love Numair too, but had to limit myself to one of the two, so…).

8. Coriolanus (William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus)
Coriolanus is my tragic hero. His hubris is pride, and his isolation makes his downfall complete. Yet, there’s a nobleness in him that appeals to me because I see his flaw translating into a strength—only one for a different time. I find him the most heroic of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes: he’s not whiny like Hamlet, is more determined than Macbeth, does not go mad from doubts like Othello, and is more reasonable than Lear. When the final scene arrives, his death simply embodies tragedy.

7. John Thornton (Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South)
I’ve had numerous debates with my friends about the ultimate nineteenth-century question: Darcy or Thornton? As much as I adore Fitzwilliam Darcy, Thornton’s the one who pulls my heartstrings. He got over his father’s epic fail, paved his own way into awesome, supports his mother and unappreciative sister without complaint, takes responsibility for the livelihood of all his workers, works long and hard hours, and still strives to better himself as a ‘gentleman’. I suppose Richard Armitage helps a little, too.

Image from

6. Emma Woodhouse (Jane Austen’s Emma)
Emma, oh Emma! This little darling is so extraordinarily deluded that I simply can’t help but love her. She’s in equal parts frustrating, entertaining, and offensive, but always remains endearing. I also think she’s the Austen heroine who goes on the most profound journey of self-discovery throughout the course of the novel, and by the end, she’s truly made herself worthy of Mr. Knightley.

5. Black Beauty (Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty)
Yes, he’s a horse. But so what? Black Beauty is a damn awesome horse, and I want to cuddle him forever and ever. He’s hard-working, patient, noble, loyal, and never complains—to how many people in your life can you attribute all those qualities?

4. Frankenstein’s monster (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)
I’ve always sympathised with the monster throughout the entirety of the novel, during which I keep thinking, ‘If only circumstances were different.’ To me, Frankenstein is full of ‘if only’s, and those lost opportunities make me ache. Furthermore, I love how the monster begins by paralleling Adam from Paradise Lost, and ends as the tragic Satan, doomed from that which is ultimately beyond his control.

3. Antoinette Cosway (Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea)
Antoinette is better known as Bertha Mason, the mad woman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. With Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys gives ‘Bertha’ the story she deserves, and paints a character so vivacious and full of curious energy that it’s heartbreaking to watch her transform into Bertha. At the end of the novel, when the events culminate and tie in directly with Jane Eyre, Antoinette’s closure leaves me with a lingering sadness.

2. Severus Snape (J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series)

Image from

Snape possesses many awful traits: he’s nasty, angry, petty, jealous, and downright mean. But he’s also intelligent, snarky, loyal, and so incredibly courageous. His strengths don’t vindicate his flaws, but they do show the complexity of his character. What I admire most (and what hurts me most) is how at the end of the day, Snape knows what he must do—and he does it, simply because he must.

1. Usagi Tsukino (Sailormoon) (Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailormoon series)
Usagi is everything I strive to be: she’s loving, giving, and forgiving; she’s courageous and determined; she’s open-minded, non-judgmental, and sees the best in others. Her flaws are very real, and very relatable: she’s lazy, gluttonous, ditzy, gives up easily, and is terrified of a thousand things. But at the end of the day, her goodness shines through and prevails, making her an ordinary girl who’s also truly extraordinary.

Who are your ten favourite characters of all time? Leave your thoughts in a comment, or share the link to your response!

16 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday – Ten All-Time Favourite Characters in Books

  1. I love John Thornton for all of the reasons that you mentioned. Margaret Hale’s haughty attitude toward him at the beginning of the book killed me. Richard Armitage’s performance as Thornton in the BBC adaptation blows me away every time I watch it.

    • I’m glad you agree! I’ve always loved the way he tried to find his own place during the upheavals of the social structure, and then how he tried to reconcile his own identity with Margaret’s perception of ‘gentlemen’. I can gush about him forever—and about Richard Armitage, too! (Especially that wonderful Northern accent!)

  2. Awwww I LOVE that you included Black Beauty! He’s the most precious horse of all time. I don’t think a fictional animal ever tugged at my heartstrings so much <33

    As soon as I saw you post this, I had a feeling you'd be including some form of Usagi/Sailor Moon. She's just so YOU, and really one of the most inspirational characters in all the manga I've read.

    And Snape is awesome, The End.

    • I simply had to include Black Beauty, because he’s such an amazing character! :D <333

      Hehehe, am I that predictable with Usagi? XD And thank you so much for the compliment—I don't think I'm half as amazing as Usagi (though perhaps twice as slovenly)! XD

      Yay Snape!! :D <3

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Ten All Time Favourite Characters in Books « A Crystal Moon

  4. That’s a very interesting top ten list. Would not have even thought of putting Black Beauty on it but hey, you’re always full of surprises. Also somewhat amazed that Darcy didn’t make the cut.

  5. Nice choice on the Frankenstein’s monster!

    Also, why am I not surprised to find Snape and Usagi on this list? Also, why am I suddenly shipping Snape and Usagi?

  6. Emma! I debated putting her on my list but ultimately, there were other characters that I’ve loved longer. I hope to see you participating in more book memes! <3

    • She was actually my first Austen heroine, and her very flawed personality makes her all that more real. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist all the awesome book memes you’ll be sure to participate in! :D

  7. I heart this list so much Sammy! John Thornton! Usagi! Emma Woodhouse! And oh my gosh, Antoinette. XD

    I’ve loved reading your list, and Meg’s and Angel’s. I think I’m going to have to make my own list, despite the fact that it’s Thursday. :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *