This post is part of a series inspired by the 52 lists project journal; read more about my intention and approach in the original post here.
Week 2 / List 2: List your favorite characters from books, movies, etc.
This is the prompt that inspired me to buy this journal.
I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, and have even begun recently circling back to my childhood favorites. I’m not much of a re-reader, but I re-read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley this year and loved it more than ever. Every time I look at my bookshelf, Little Women calls out to me to return to it with the new perspective offered by the fantastic podcast Queering Little Women. I’ve only just now, in the first few years of my 30s, fallen in love with Harry Potter (and love listening to brilliant academics discuss it on Witch Please).
All of that is to say: I love books. I’ve always loved books. And I’ve always loved finding myself in books. There are so many characters who have helped me find some crucial piece of understanding, some glimmering insight into myself. Without these characters, I might have spent far more years of my life feeling lost and alienated.
Without further ado, here is my list of favorite characters:
- Hermione Granger*, from the Harry Potter series
- Jo March*, from Little Women
- Leslie Knope*, from Parks & Recreation
- Morgan le Fay, from Arthurian legend, but especially in The Mists of Avalon
- Alice*, from Through the Looking Glass / Wonderland
- Willow Rosenberg, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Amelie, from Amelie
- Suzy, from Moonrise Kingdom
- Ariel, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest
- Puck, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Piglet, from Winnie the Pooh
- Merlin, in T.C. Boyle’s rendering of him in The Once and Future King
- Little Red Riding Hood
- The Fraggles
- Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street
- The Witches of Eastwick
- Zeke Pappas*, from My American Unhappiness
- Liz Lemon, from 30 Rock
- and literally every character on The West Wing, but especially President Josiah Bartlet, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, and Donnatella Moss
First, let me explain the asteriks:
Hermione Grangers, Jo March, and Leslie Knope get stars because they are the first three I thought of and the three I would name if someone asked me to summarize myself using three fictional characters. More on that later.
Alice gets an asterik because, as of right now, she’s the speaker of the only literary tattoo I currently have (“curiouser and curiouser”).
And Zeke Pappas deserves a special note because it was for him that I named my dog Zeke.
Each list is usually followed by a journaling prompt, and this week, the book asks me to “find a common personality trait between your favorite characters. What is one character trait that you admire in your favorite characters that you can work towards this week?”
In the notebook, I wrote WITCHINESS! And I’m really only half joking. There are a lot of actual witches on my list: Hermione, Willow, Morgan, the ladies from Eastwick. There’s Merlin, a wizard. Plus, I’d argue that Matilda, Ariel, and Puck’s magical powers roughly qualify them for the category of witch.
Now, as much as I wish I could, I don’t think I can necessarily commit to working towards developing magical powers this week. What I can do, though, is think about witchiness as a more abstract goal, one that I think is defined by power, courage, a belief in things we can’t understand (all magic is really just science we don’t yet understand, right?), and a willingness to take charge and work for what you want.
With those other qualities in mind, I think we can see Jo March, Leslie Knope, Alice in Wonderland, Amelie, Suzy, Liz Lemon, and CJ Cregg as witches, too.
Ultimately, what I think I’ve always loved about these characters is their strength, intelligence, and femininity. These are all women unsatisfied with the lot in life they’ve been given, women who are unafraid to believe they deserve more. They are women of great imagination, and women willing to work hard — both for themselves and for others.
This week, I’ll be attending the Women’s March in D.C. to protest the incoming President-Elect’s lack of qualification, and utter disrespect for women, minorities, and all others who don’t look or think as subservient to him. I can’t think of a better #squad to have marching behind me.
Who are your favorite characters from books or movies, and why? If you had to summarize yourself with three fictional characters, who would they be? Leave your own answers in the comments!