The other day I saw a quote from George R R Martin that said “You should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care.” As an avid reader and a writer, I couldn’t agree with it more. It made me start to think about what makes you connect with a character. Sometimes it is seeing a small part of you, but I think that more often than not we love characters because they possess a quality that we wish we had. Or at least that we wish we possessed more of. So today I decided I’d talk about some fictional characters that I love and look up to. I’d love to hear about your top 5 in the comments below!
Winnie the Pooh
In my opinion, Winnie the Pooh is one of the best characters that has ever been created. I loved him as a kid and I still love him now when I’m about to graduate college. My brother who is 25 loves him. My parents love him. But why is that? For me, every time I see a quote from him I immediately feel warm inside. Pooh’s like the embodiment of a hug. However, the two qualities that Pooh possesses that I look up to are his loyalty and his positivity. He sticks by the people that he loves through thick and thin. The newest movie where he goes to find Christopher Robin as an adult showcases this brilliantly. He senses that he is needed and he is there. It all comes from a place of genuine love and the desire for other people’s happiness. That’s an admirable quality. As my senior year continues to fly by, I’m forced to think about what comes after. Not all of my friends will stay here. In the past, I haven’t kept up with friendships as well as I could have. Winnie the Pooh makes me want to remember to make a conscious effort to maintain these friendships in a way that still feels meaningful. In a way, all of the characters in these stories model what friendship should look like. Both the things that you should do, but also how other friends should act toward you. Loyalty should go both ways and Winnie the Pooh is an excellent example of what that should look like. Pooh is also a beacon of positivity. I tend to lean on the more pessimistic side. Sometimes Eeyore reminds me a lot of myself. However, Pooh is always looking on the bright side. One of my favorite Pooh quotes is “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” He is always trying to build people up. He always wants people to see the best in themselves and the world. Every time I see a Winnie the Pooh movie, I leave wanting to live my life through a rose-colored lens. I admire his ability to feel a spectrum of emotions (like sadness when he runs out of honey), but still end the day feeling positive. I’m forever grateful that Winnie the Pooh was created and that I can always look to Pooh for models of friendship and positivity.
I have read the book once, but I have seen the movie approximately one million times. I used to watch it every time I went to my Aunt Marla’s house and I never skip it if I scroll past it when channel surfing. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. If you have watched the movie and have not tried to tip over a glass with your mind, you are lying. But her powers are not the main thing that I look up to. I’ve always admired her intelligence and determination. Even though she didn’t have the greatest home life, she was able to dive into books and find other mentorships with people like the librarian and Ms. Honey in order to encourage her learning. She loved school. She actually pleaded to go to school. Sometimes I take for granted the fact that I get to go to college and get a quality education. I complain a lot, but if I take a step back and look at the big picture, I am incredibly lucky. She is a character who makes me look at the world that way. Also, I connect very strongly with her love of books. I bet she has fictional characters that she looks up to as well. I also admire her determination. She was not going to stop without making Ms. Trunchbull pay for the horrible things that she did. Even when others tried to stop her, she believed in herself and pushed forward. In the end, her belief in her goals and her follow-through allowed for everyone to have a much better life. When I watch this movie and think about this character it makes me want to dive into a book and accomplish my goals: both equally important for a happy life for me.
Phineas and Ferb
I haven’t watched this show in a long time. Probably not since I was in middle school, but these characters always made me want to try and do the impossible. These two characters are some of the most inventive and creative characters that I have come across. Their ability to start with an idea in their backyard and transform it into something spectacular was inspiring. They didn’t see anything as too big or too hard. They just did it. I love to write. But for a while now I have been having some sort of a creative block. It may be from stress or from my own anxieties. I’m not totally sure, but for whatever reason, no ideas are flowing. If an idea does come, it’s one that I don’t see ending up well. But characters like Phineas and Ferb wouldn’t just stop. They’d write those bad ideas out if there was even a .00000001 chance it would end up well. They wouldn’t just say “oh well” when writer’s block strikes, they would find a way or build some machine to solve that problem. Too often, I sit by and let things happen around me or ideas pass by without grabbing them because it seems impossible. But characters like these don’t see anything as impossible. They are definitely two characters who possess qualities I’m sometimes lacking.
I love this character with all of my heart. I read every Nancy Drew book when I was in elementary school, have played some of the computer games, and have seen the movie. I love the concept of a girl solving crimes with her own wit and strength. She possesses a fearlessness that I wish I had. As you know by now, I struggle with anxiety. I struggle in situations that are much less dire than the places Nancy ends up. She is always willing to jump into the unknown in order to help herself and others, but the unknown is what I fear most. It is what I struggle with coming to terms with on a day to day basis. I wish I had her fearlessness when it comes to diving in even if you aren’t certain it will turn out okay in the end. We aren’t God, so we have no idea what tomorrow brings. Or even what the next hour brings. However, that doesn’t mean that we should just sit in our comfortable bubble and never venture into anything that is uncertain. That is actually impossible. Not everything in life is a sure thing. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and take a leap of faith. Nancy Drew did that in every book. Sometimes she got out of a sticky situation and learned valuable information that helped her crack the case, but other times she got hit by a bad guy and ended up in a worse position than she started. But she would always take the next case, no matter how difficult the previous one had been. She never let fear hold her back and that is something that I am actively trying to work on. Even just typing this paragraph makes me want to grab a copy and spend some time marveling at Nancy’s ability to walk into the fire. If you never read these books (which is insane to me that this might be the case), you need to. The books are fun but the character and character development that happens over the series is some of my favorite work by an author.
Last, but certainly not least, is Pippi Longstocking. Based on the mixed reaction I got the year I dressed up as her for Halloween, I would say she is a slightly less popular character than the ones listed above. Not as many people seem to have read these books. For me, she is a character that I have looked up to since the first chapter I read in elementary school. For those of you who don’t know, Pippi Longstocking is a little girl who lives on her own with her monkey and her horse. She has a unique look and a unique set of skills that lead her on a myriad of adventures including being in the circus and making burglars leave her house. The thing I have always admired about this character is her ability to be totally and completely herself without caring what anyone else thinks about her. I can be self-conscious sometimes even when I don’t want to be. I’m a little bit of a people pleaser and I don’t like to rock the boat. Pippi is not afraid of rocking the boat or being seen as different than everyone else. Her individuality is what makes her such a dynamic character. Owning who you are and being unafraid to show it to the world is something that I would love to do 100% of the time. Part of owning who you are is realizing you have flaws, which Pippi does. It is what makes her such a well written and well-rounded character. She will forever stand out in my mind as the most confident character I have come across.
All of these characters stand out for their own reasons. I love all of them for giving me examples of how to live my life better and to its fullest. I look forward to coming across many more influential characters in the future as I continue to devour books and movies. I want to know what characters you look up to! I think knowing someone’s top five can tell you a lot about them. Let me know in the comments below!