Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics
- July 13: Book Titles That Are Questions
- July 20: Books I Read In One Sitting (or would have if I had the time)
- July 27: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island
- August 3: Titles or Covers That Made Me Want to Read/Buy the Book
- August 10: Secondary / Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love
- August 17: My Favourite Places to Read
- August 24: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time
Oh my lord, how have we reached the end of August already? September and a new academic year for both me and my daughter is looming rapidly and we are still on the hunt for new school shoes for her!
This list is all about our fictional crushes, those characters who – if we could, if we were not married, if they were actually, you know, real – we definitely would do. Or at least we would stalk them on Facebook and Instagram and wonder “What if…” For readers of certain genres – obviously romance – this is an easy topic, but that is not my go-to genre. For me, as often, you can expect a mixture of classics – which I generally read at a more impressionable age than my current cynical forty-seven! – and contemporary characters.
Oh the bard had some wonderful characters, so let’s throw a handful in that, were they to appear in my life, would so be on the list.
Hal, Henry IV Part 1
Not going to lie, but the Hollow Crown adaptation for the BBC starring Tom Hiddlestone did not diminish my love for this character!
But even on the page, Hal is wonderful: a little bit lost, a little bit wild, a little bit “other” – is the Prince a performance, or is Falstaff’s drinking buddy the performance? Who is he? Does he know? Watching him mature from wastrel to prince to King in Henry V is a joy to behold!
Cleopatra, Anthony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra is a wonderful character in this play. Obviously beautiful from the outset – “age cannot wither her” – but it is her fluidity, her changeability, her mercurial nature that appeals most – “nor custom stale her infinite variety”.
By turns vulnerable, fierce, passionate and dangerous, if you were to lose an empire but gain her, it would not be a bad deal!
Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet
Extravagant, mercurial, loyal, bawdy, violent, Mercutio is the stand out character in the play and so overshadows the title characters!
Bridging the two houses of the Capulets and Montagues, he holds court in one of the most exquisite speeches in Shakespeare: Queen Mab speech.
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talk’st of nothing.
These three do all share similar characteristics: they are all rather mercurial and fluid characters, a little dangerous, with a steely moral core beneath all the pomp and pretence and performance.
Bad Boys and Babes
Who doesn’t love a dangerous guy? Or a femme fatale? The characters below perhaps echo the original iconic Byronic Hero: mad, bad and dangerous to know.
Lucy Westenra, Dracula by Bram Stoker
It was a toss up whether to include the Count himself or Lucy… but Lucy won!
Westenra is the foil to Mina Murray before she marries Jonathan Harker – more flighty, more full of life and energy, more exciteable. She plays the field of her suitors and voices thoughts that might be troubling to her peers:
Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?
Dracula’s conversion of her into a vampire, unleashes a terrible sexual hunger alongside the horrifying predatory feasting on children subverting every stereotype of femininity of her era.
Red and/or Blue, This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
There is no point describing these two physically as their forms shift and change through the novel.
What strikes though is the passion, the fierceness and intensity of their feelings. These are two characters who would – and who probably could – set the world on fire for one another, who would die for each other, who would kill to protect the other.
Are they bad girls? They are most certainly dangerous to know!
Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Yes – to say he is deeply flawed as a character is an understatement!
But the dark brooding looks, the intensity of his emotions for Cathy, the heart wrenching pain at her death and desperation for her to return home after her death. That moment when he wrenches open the window to howl for her into the storm!
Mr Darcy is charming but too constrained by society rules, Mr Rochester is more challenging than Heathcliff as a character.
As Cathy says
My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!
Dorian Gray, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Too beautiful to be allowed to age or to be corrupted! His entire existence is bound to his appearance and I fear he might be a rather shallow gentleman as a result – there is only so much hedonism one can take – but he would be a fantastic date!
As Wilde himself says
Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry is what the world thinks of me; Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.
Good Guys and Gals
Strangely, the characters nominated below come from modern novels rather than the classics. I had been tempted to include Atticus Finch, but he is perhaps a little too respectable for this (although he appears on many such lists) – a man worthy of respect, not crushes.
Arthur Parnassus, The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
Parnassus may not be the most physically impressive of men – at least not in his human form
He was spindly. His light hair was a mess, sticking up at odd angles. It was starting to gray around his temple. His dark eyes were bright and glittering in the near-dark. His aquiline nose had a bump in the center, as if it’d been broken once long ago and never set right. He was smiling, hands clasped in front of him. His fingers were long and elegant as he twiddled his thumbs.
But his unwavering kindness, his care for those under his wing, his capacity for love was extraordinary.
Noemí Taboada, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
There were echoes of Lucy Westenra in the depiction of Noemí Taboada who develops from a flighty and superficial party girl whose mind – although formidable – rarely stretches beyond her next party or gown.
Until she comes up against the Doyle family in High Place – immortal, creepy, incestuous – with a terrible relationship with the local mushrooms!
Agnes, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
There is something so appealing about the wilder characters in literature and Agnes, the poet’s wife, in Hamnet is in this mold. First seen emerging from the forest with a hawk on her arm, steeped in forest lore, retreating to the forest to give birth Agnes is more than a part elven in her characterisation.
And who wouldn’t love an elven maiden.
Daniel Arlington, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Gentleman of Lethe.
Odd, perhaps, as Darlington has been mysteriously missing from Yale during the entirety of this book – but we see him in flashbacks. And he is kind and genteel and chivalrous without irony – seeing his role in Lethe as almost a knightly duty and burden.
Hopefully we will see more of him in the sequel – and find out who he may have murdered…!
As always, please do leave your comments and observations and your own literary crushes that I may have missed!
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes
- September 7: Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face
- September 14: Books With Numbers In the Title
- September 21: Books on My Fall 2021 To-read List
- September 28: Freebie (Come up with your own topic or do a past TTT topic that you missed or would like to do again.)