So I was talking with some of my friends the other night about books, of course, because that’s seriously what we do ALL the time (I’m looking at you, Tatiana, Sylvia, Paulina, Megan and Gabby) and we started talking about City of Bones because Paulina is reading it for the first time. (I know, right? Sigh, at least she’s reading it now! Haha) She had already kind of started liking different characters and we were talking about that and I mentioned that my favorite TMI character, besides Jace Wayland (because we all know how I get about Jace Wayland) is Alec Lightwood.
And that started a discussion on the likability of Alec. I seemed to be the only person that really actually liked him. For the most part, there were negative comments about Alec. Its not that they didn’t like him; they just weren’t particularly fond of him. They said he was pompous, and mean and things like that. And they aren’t really wrong. But…I love Alec, and probably for those reasons. And I usually get a sort of incredulous reaction when I express how much I really love Alec.
That’s not really the first time that’s happened either. I tend to like characters that aren’t always the most favorable of characters. I love Alec Lightwood. My favorite HP character is Ron Weasley. I like James Potter, as well. Jessamine Lovelace from TID? Yeah, I liked her too. I liked Pippa Cross in A Great and Terrible Beauty and I actually really like Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones (from what I know so far…). I also really like Draco Malfoy as well.
I also tend to get a lot of gasps and surprised looks when I say I don’t like a particular character, or that I’m not as obsessed with them as most people are. Like Severus Snape…I don’t like him, sorry. I don’t like him the way the fandom does. I think Alan Rickman is awesome but I’m just not a huge fan. Same with Dobby; that guy is SOOOO annoying, I can’t even handle it. I like Simon Lewis in TMI but I felt he was kind of a stereotypical character and I am not obsessed with him like most of the TMI fandom is. And so on.
So I started to think, why is it that I tend to like the characters that most people don’t pick as their favorite? Why do I tend to be very apathetic toward characters that people go insane over? I really started to think this over. And I came up with some reasons.
They are more realistic.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Harry Potter. I love Hermione Granger and Jace Wayland and all of these characters but a lot of times, they aren’t the most realistic of characters. Now, don’t jump down my throat just yet. What I’m saying is, they are realistic, but they aren’t the MOST realistic characters of the novel. I prefer characters like Ron, Alec, Draco, James, Jessamine because I believe they tend to represent human nature a lot more than maybe we are aware of or what we want to admit.
Take Ron Weasley as an example.
I think people like him for the most part, as part of the trio, but I don’t think people are overly fond of him. I know a ton of people who will bad mouth him to the end of time, and they usually bring up the way he acted with Harry in Goblet of Fire when his name is chosen, and then also in Deathly Hallows, when he leaves Hermione and Harry. And I can understand where they are coming from. You can sort of be frustrated and angry with Ron and the way he acts.
However, I think the way he reacts is the most realistic reaction of all of them. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are all extraordinary characters, and they’re all wonderful, brave, fantastic characters. But come on, let’s be real. How many of us, actual seventeen/eighteen year olds would make the kind of sacrifices that they did? I mean, I’m sure there would be a good amount. I know that you tend to surprise yourself when put under extreme circumstances, but let’s face it, teenagers aren’t always prepared for these kind of situations. I think the fact that Ron is tired and hungry and irritable and frustrated is completely normal and expected. I would be. I don’t know how I would be if I was put in the kind of situations that they are. And when it comes to Goblet of Fire? We are all victims to the green monster of envy and jealousy and I think that Ron being angry at Harry is normal. I think its realistic. I think that its the most realistic and genuine reaction, in both of those situations.
They are more relatable.
Again, don’t all start attacking me. Its not that I don’t think that these other characters aren’t relatable because they are! They totally are. There’s a reason they are the main characters and the ones that people remember. They are completely relatable. But I tend to find those disliked characters a little more relatable.
Let’s talk about Alec Lightwood for a moment.
What I’ve seemed to notice about those who tend not to like Alec is that he’s pompous, proud, he’s irrational and emotional, and he can be mean, and he does something INCREDIBLY stupid in City of Lost Souls. I’m not denying that; definitely not. But I can relate to Alec Lightwood so much, more so than probably any of the characters in that book because he is so REAL. He’s eighteen years old, and he’s gay, and he can’t really bring himself to admit that. Its hard enough for someone to come out as a normal teenager and even harder in a conservative, tight knit society that the Shadowhunters have created. Then he has Magnus and I think a lot of his growth in his self-esteem is hanging on that relationship. I think he feels more confident when he has Magnus‘s love.
And yes, obviously Magnus is an immortal being and has previous relationships and love in the past. We do know that, and I know that it is possible for you to love more than one person in your life. But again, Alec is not a very self-confident person and I’m sure hearing about Magnus’s previous loves, and coming face to face with one as manipulative as Camille has to be SO hard on him and his self-esteem. It doesn’t help that Magnus is very close-mouthed about his past. I know he thinks he’s doing Alec a favor by sparing him from details of a past that isn’t important anymore but I think it makes Alec feel worse, and it makes him have crazy, insecure thoughts because he’s insecure. I also think that he comes across as pompous and mean because of his insecurities, to cover up how he’s really feeling.
I know exactly how that feels. I know how scary it can be to come out to people; I know it was for me. I know what it is like to be so unbelievably insecure and lacking of confidence in yourself that you sabotage your relationship because again, I’ve been there. I’ve had the sort of insecurities that Alec does and if you’re already an emotional person, the way Alec is, you’re going to do things that are irrational. I think Alec is a very real and relatable character. I feel like people try to pretend that we don’t have insecurities like that, the ones that make us do those kinds of things, that make us do BAD, mean, or hurtful things. I think its realistic to have a character like Alec who is emotional and irrational and impulsive and making the wrong decisions and making mistakes and messing things up because we all do these sort of things. We all do the wrong things all the time, because we’re human and Alec is a very human character, which is why I love him so much.
They’re a lot like me?
Okay, I don’t mean this in a way to feel sorry for myself or any of that but I’m a book worm. And sure, that’s super cool now. Everyone seems to be reading now but for most of my life, especially through middle school and high school, I was teased hugely for spending most of my time with my nose in a book. And I’m kind of an intense person. I am emotional, impulsive, sometimes irrational and I just FEEL so much, you know? I’ve always been like that. And I’m a person that has never had a ton of friends all at one time. I’ve been unpopular.
So maybe I understand and connect with these characters more than the others because of their unpopularity? I understand their motives, I understand that their loneliness can sometimes make them do stupid things, or come across stupid.
Take Jessamine for instance, from The Infernal Devices. She’s lonely; she doesn’t fit in with the Shadowhunters and doesn’t feel that same pull, the same calling as the rest of them do. She wants to be normal, wants to have a normal life, to marry and have children and escape the life that she doesn’t belong to, not really. And yeah, she betrays people and she’s not a very nice person. But I can understand her motivations and I can understand why she did the things she did. I understand wanting something so badly that she was willing to do anything for that.
This also makes me think of Pippa Cross in A Great and Terrible Beauty, who is often called annoying, spoiled, impulsive, irrational, etc. I completely understand Pippa. She’s powerless, in ever way that she can be powerless. She is absolutely beautiful (okay, so that one isn’t exactly relatable haha) and she’s a tool her parents are using to get out of their debt. She isn’t valued for her mind, for the things she thinks, for her dreams and her wishes. She’s insecure and that makes her biting, mean, a bully. They say bullies tend to be incredibly insecure people. I think Pippa is afraid of not being heard, of being looked over and not feeling important. I know how that feels. I think she also feels like, even though she’s beautiful, she’s constantly in the shadow of Felicity because Felicity is clever and charming and dynamic. I DEFINITELY can understand that because I tend to find friends who are more outgoing and dynamic and more well-liked than I am. Which brings me to my last point.
I understand these characters.
When you really come and put all of these characters, it boils down to I understand them, and understanding them makes them more real, more natural and more genuine. I understand their motives and their emotions and why they make the decisions the do.
I understand Alec. I understand that he is insecure and that he’s impulsive and he’s a teenager with raging emotions and it makes him irrational. I understand the mistakes one can make when they have that kind of personality and those kind of insecure thoughts. Like I said, been there, done that. I’ve made incredibly stupid decisions like Alec, sabotaged my friendships and relationships.
I understand Jessamine, wanting something so badly that you would do anything for it, even hurt those who have only your best interests at heart because you are so focused on that goal that its so hard to pay attention to something else.
I understand Ron Weasley, because I know what its like to be in others’ shadows and to feel like you’re constantly second best to someone else. I know that I could probably not handle a situation like being on the run, trying to take on the biggest villain of all time as well as Hermione and Harry. I would probably be like Ron, I would feel discouraged and hungry and angry and frustrated and hopeless. I would.
I understand Draco Malfoy, who I believe is a product of his environment, a kid who only knows what his father has taught him and I believe that he eventually realizes what he has done is wrong. I believe he is a kid that makes the wrong decisions but changes things before he and his conscience and his soul can be lost forever to evil. I feel sorry for him, and I have fantasies that he became a better and happier person after the war, after he comes to terms with the mistakes that he made and learned from them.
I also understand Cersei Lannister. Okay, not the whole, I’m in love with my brother thing because that’s kind of gross. But I understand that she was basically forced to marry someone that she didn’t love and that she was used, abused and disrespected and that would make any self-respecting woman angry. And all she wants to do is protect her children. Sure, she doesn’t quite go about it in the BEST way possible but I do understand. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Cersei was scorned BIG time and I can understand her anger, her need for…revenge and to get what she feels she has earned.
Lastly, I also like James Potter, and besides just the fact that he’s Harry’s dad and without him, we wouldn’t have Harry. I think he was a great man and a great person. I think he had a big head, and was pompous and spoiled and a bully when he was a child because of the environment he grew up in, where he was spoiled and adored by his parents. But I don’t think he was a terrible person and I think he grew up to be a great man, who learned from his mistakes and changed who he was, and became the man that everyone talked about to Harry.
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So okay, maybe you don’t agree with me. Maybe you still think I’m crazy and I like the weirdest characters and what is wrong with you and all of that and that’s okay! I have read blog posts and articles about those characters that I don’t like, like Snape, and I’ve understood but I haven’t agreed and I’m sure you have done the same.
But that’s just the way I feel. I like those secondary characters that not as many people like. I like those underdog characters that don’t always make the right decisions or say the right things because they are the most real to me, and they are the characters that jump off the page to me.
I am not a perfect person, and I’m okay with that. I come to terms with myself and my personality more and more each day but I’ve been insecure and emotional and impulsive and stupid and annoying and I’ve been mean and I’ve been prideful. So I understand these characters and I understand that sometimes you do the wrong things and say the wrong things and you’re not liked and you lose friends and boyfriends and loved ones and you’re not popular and you’re alone. I recognize that.
I think that so many of these popular characters go through the same things. I do believe that, but I do believe that they tend to do these things in a way that can be admired, or make them to be a struggling hero or a martyr or that sort of thing. I think they often times end up making the right decisions and that they have these redeeming qualities that are more obvious than their flaws. I think these other characters, their flaws are more obvious than their good qualities because their flaws cause problems in the stories.
But I see these characters for their good and their bad and I saw their genuineness and I love them for that. So I’ll stick to liking those characters that may not be as popular as the others. Even if I have to continually defend them, because I like them for a reason, for many reasons, and that’s all that matters right? These characters are real to me, and therefore feel like real friends to me, real people that I know.
So what do you think? What are some characters that you like that some people don’t really agree with? As always, share in the comments. I love to hear from you guys!