Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!
This week, The Broke and the Bookish challenged readers to choose their Top Ten Inspirational Characters. Since the term “characters” is used, I’m only listing made up or fictionalized characters. Spoiler Alerts!
1. Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Atticus Finch is an attorney in Depression-Era Alabama. When black man Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, Finch represents Robinson. It’s apparent that Robinson has been falsely accused but Finch’s case is hard to prove thanks to the bigotry of the day. Nevertheless, Finch does not back down from defending his client.
2. Antonia Shimerda of My Antonia by Willa Cather – This beauty of Bohemia immigrates with her family and settles in Nebraska. She both works and plays hard. Nothing tanks Antonia.
3. James Jarvis of Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton – James Jarvis is a wealthy South African landowner. His son, Arthur, was an engineer and an activist for racial justice. James learns of his son’s death at the hands of black thieves. Yet, James picks up where Arthur left off in his cause for the end of Apartheid.
4. Patria Mirabal of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – The Mirabal family lives in The Dominican Republic under the rule of Trujillo. The Mirabals have four daughters: Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Teresa. The oldest of the Mirabal sisters, Patria is very religious. She and her husband, Pedrito, have a very solid marriage and family life. Patria is also a revolutionary, starting a Christian revolutionary group and merging it with her sister Minerva’s revolutionary group. Ultimately, she loses everything for the cause of her country.
5. Sydney Carton of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Mr. Carton is a young English barrister that doesn’t live up to his potential. He falls in love with the pure, golden, French Lucie Manette. This is unrequited, though, because Lucie’s heart belongs to her husband, Charles Darney, also Carton’s doppelganger. D Darney once was a French aristocrat but, on the brink of Revolution, is about to be executed. However, Carton steps in for Darney, saying “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
6. Sergeant McShane of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – Michael McShane is a policeman turned politician. He is married to a sickly woman but admires widow Katie Rommely Nolan, protagonist Francie’s mother, from afar. McShane remains faithful to his wife until her death does them part. Then, he proposes to Katie. Katie accepts. McShane takes care of not only Katie but her three children by her late husband.
7. Cordelia of King Lear by William Shakespeare – Cordelia is the youngest daughter of King Lear. When her awful sisters, Goneril and Regan, shamelessly flatter their father so they can inherit part of his estate, Cordelia doesn’t play. For this reason, King Lear disowns his virtuous daughter.
8. Jane Eyre of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Jane survives a childhood of depravity with her character in tact. She perseveres through the ups and downs of a relationship with Mr. Rochester. Jane also refuses to marry for any other reason than love.
9. Claudius of I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves– In these two books, Claudius relates the story of his life. He started out as a lame child, mostly ignored for this reason. After the death of Caligua, Claudius is crowned emperor. The sheer survival of Claudius alone inspires.
10. Delia and James “Jim” Dillingham Young of “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry – Here’s a man willing to sacrifice for the happiness of his wife. Also, we’ve got a woman willing to sacrifice for the happiness of her husband. Don’t I just love irony?
11. Jesus Christ
* 1001 Books Book
Brontë, C. (1993). Jane Eyre. New York: Modern Library.
I remember having listened to the audio book when I was in junior high. Yet, I did not feel as though I could say I had actually read Brontë’s Jane Eyre. So, I picked up the book a second time.
Jane is an orphaned girl stuck with her mean, widowed, and wealthy aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her wretched cousins. Jane suffers at their hands to the point of being thrilled to go to boarding school just to escape their heavy-handed cruelty.
At the Lowood School, however, Jane finds more of the same abuses and deprivations. Under the direction of the antagonistic and puritanical Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane and her peers go more days without what they need. When Mr. Brocklehurst loses his position, though, and a new committee takes over Lowood, life for the students dramatically improves.
As an adult, Jane becomes a governess. She takes on employment at Thornfield manor under Byronic hero Mr. Rochester. Jane develops romantic feelings for Mr. Rochester, an enigmatic man with a past of his own.
I found Jane Eyre quite powerful in the creation and phrasing of the eponymous character. Simultaneously compassionate and willful, Jane can stand on her own. Mr. Rochester seems to love this quality, too. Jane is unsinkable and can look out for herself. In the ways that counts for Brontë, her orphaned heroine and Byronic hero are a perfect match.
It’s difficult for me to see if this is where the clichés of gothic romance originate or if it was already old hat. A similar question I had was whether all of the orphan misery was original to Brontë or if it was borrowed with Dickens. It definitely met my melodrama quota for the year.
Three out of Five Pearls
For more on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, please check out the following links: