Let us face it; fiction (or nonfiction reads too) features both likeable and unlikeable characters; even those we sought to escape in the first place maybe when we opened that book! But like real life, (almost) every unlikeable character has something to admire in them. Conversely, those characters we love have flaws and quirks that can get on our nerves easily.
On Unlikeable Characters in General
So fiction characters are unlikeable in a few different ways.
The Ones We Love to Hate
There are those we completely dislike, and since they leave us feeling annoyed, angry, disgusted, or other such negative thoughts every time we encounter them in the book, we secretly (or not so secretly) are thrilled when things misfire for them, or they meet their end (the more terrible, the better, right?)
And These (Kind of the Ones We Hate to Like, Maybe?)
Then there are those we completely dislike too but hope they will turn around for the sake of others around them. But if they do not, well, then that terrible end was what they deserved. So while we keep our fingers crossed throughout the book for something better for them, and not hate them outright, the end makes us feel otherwise.
The Ones We Kind of, Sort of Like
Next, there are those we kind of like. They are villainous or unlikeable in many ways, but we don’t want true harm to come to them; we might not befriend them, but will not scorn them too. And they might be the protagonist or the hero of the book; or some other character portrayed as the villain in the book. Either way, they can be unlikeable and likeable both. We also learn to admire somethings about them, and understand the reason for their behavior or personality, and sometimes grow to love them as we turn the last page.
And the Rest
Lastly (there are other types too, but for the sake of this article, this is the last type), there are those we should like, but simply cannot; for whatever reason. Maybe we need to examine those reasons a bit since real world biases and real world issues do impact how we view fiction as well.
I guess, we need to examine the reasons for why we like some fictional characters more than others regardless. Who knows what or who they remind us on in real life? Maybe they simply remind us of ourselves – our flawed selves 🙂
Unlikeable Characters that I Grew to Like By “The End”
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This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday is unlikeable characters you can’t help but love. My list kind of features such characters. One thing about them: they are all from books I love.
And while I am not sure if they are totally unlikeable, they did not always appeal to me at the start of the book, but I understood them and appreciated something about them as I read. I admired them too. Sometimes, I even grew to love them making them my favorite part of the book by the end. Some of you might love them and wonder how I found them unlikeable at all in the first place; others might question how I grew to like them – but here is my list (not a complete one…however) of
Ten (+1) Characters: Unlikeable? Or Not?
- Scarlett and Rhett from Gone With the Wind.
- Elizabeth Jane from the Naughtiest Girl series by Enid Blyton. She is, well, naughty, stubborn, and determined to get herself into trouble. But there is something so admirable about her, and when she turns that ingenuity and determination to do things other than being the naughtiest, well, I love her!
- Julian and Anne from Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I know I have mentioned earlier that both of these characters annoy me a bit (more than actually) but despite their flaws, there is lots to like there too.
- Mary and Colin from The Secret Garden. Two brats who change over the course of this beloved childhood classic.
- Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables. If you have read the book, you know why. I love the cover of this Puffin edition (well, love other editions too!)
- Severus Snape from Harry Potter. He might be one of those villains many hate to like, but still do, because….
- Amy and Meg from Little Women. They remind me a lot of Julian and Anne from Famous Five; slightly snobbish and sometimes too righteous for me, but again, so much to admire and like about them – including the very things that annoy me about them.
- I totally loved this article about The Hidden Value of Unlikeable Characters over at BooksAtWork. Check it out for yourself, and find out how focusing on the disagreeability of such characters might make us “fail to see the forest for the trees.”
- Characters I’d Love An Update On
- 10 Characters That Deserve More, Better, A Book Their Own, etc.
- Top Ten Characters That Most Resonate With Me
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, who would be on your list of unlikeable characters? Would any of those on my list feature on that list? If not, what do you think of those I listed here? I would love to hear any and all comments.