Thursday, March 6, 2008

Booking through Hero

What is your favourite Male lead character? And why?

After last week's BTT question, this was expected! Here I write about those male characters who left a mark in my mind. They may or may not be favourite ones!

The first name that comes into my mind is Howard Roark of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Roark is fiercely independent person who believes in the merit of his revolutionary designs and has the courage to stand by those in the face of an antagonistic society. He is not the product of his upbringing, his economic class, his family, his religious training, or his social background. He is a product of the choices he has made. Roark is an perfect example of this. One can't question Roark's integrity. Integrity requires a man to be a thinker and he is a brilliant thinker and he acts on his thinking. Roark is a selfish man, in the positive sense. He is true to his values, to his convictions, to his thinking, to his mind, to his self. To be true to his self, a man must first have a self. He must think independently, he must judge, he must form values and he must act in pursuit of those values. He must never sacrifice them. This is selfishness of the highest order. Howard Roark, is both a moral man and a practical man. He is fully committed to the artistic integrity of every one of his designs, and he takes a labourer’s job in a granite quarry rather than compromise on the smallest detail of his building. When I read first read Fountainhead in College, I wished to be like Howard Roark.

Next comes Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. He is not a hero exactly but an anti-hero kind of person. An orphan brought to live at Wuthering Heights by Mr. Earnshaw, Heathcliff intensely falls in love with Catherine, his daughter. After Mr. Earnshaw dies, his son, Hindley abuses Heathcliff and treats him as a servant. Although Cathy loves Heathcliff, she marries Edgar Linton, giving in to societal norms. Heathcliff’s humiliation and misery prompt him to spend his life seeking revenge on Hindley, Edgar Linton, and their respective children (Hareton and young Catherine). A powerful, fierce, and often cruel man, Heathcliff acquires a fortune and uses his extraordinary powers of will to acquire both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, the estate of Edgar Linton. Despite the negative aspect, Heathcliff leaves a powerful mark on the reader. He dreams of uniting with Cathy even after death. We sympathise with him and his lot. One thing which comes out strongly is that Heathcliff has no surname.

John Steinbeck's male characters too leave lasting impacts in the mind.

*UPDATE after all the adverse comments on Heathcliff:

Heathcliff is dark and brooding. Obssessive too. However, he does no harm to Cathy even after she marries Edgar.
Wuthering Heights is not only about Heathcliff. One can't really judge the book by Heathcliff. However, without him, the book disintegrates. How much more a man can take if he loses all at every step? I would say Hindlay, Cathy's brother is much worse person than Heathcliff. Heathcliff was what his circumstances made him out to be, Hindlay had no such excuse. And how do we know what would have happened if Cathy had married Heathcliff? I do not think he would have smothered her. Cathy is partly to be blamed for his behaviour. She rejects him because of his lowly social position even though she loves him. For Cathy social position is more important than love, which Edgar can provide, and not Heathcliff.