38 Literary Characters You Won’t Forget—For Better or For Worse

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice” (1995).

William Faulkner’s approach to writing a character explains why some literary characters are so real.  “Once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does,” said Faulkner.

Great characters define great novels.  In this article I salute some of the most unforgettable female and male characters—good, bad, and all those in between.


Top 9 Female Characters in Literature

Some books I like for their clever plots or unexpected denouements, others for their dazzling narratives. But the books I cherish are those with memorable characters, especially heroines.

Heroines like Lisbeth Salander and Tess Durbeyfield are not role models, but I can’t get them out of my head. And then there are other “huge” characters whose names I will always remember, such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but their qualities no longer shine for me. Read the entire article.

Top 10 Male Characters in Literature

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” (2013).

Women’s magazines tell us there’s a dearth of good (and eligible) men. Thank goodness, it’s not the case in literature. From literary novels to thrillers, and of course, romances, there are enough great male characters to keep readers glued to their books. If you haven’t read the novels below, grab a copy and see what you think of these fine men. Read the entire article.

Top 9 Supporting Characters in Literature

They’re called sidekicks. They play second fiddle, but some secondary characters are as memorable as the protagonists they support. In fact, well-drawn supporting characters are a hallmark of exceptional novels.

While reading Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” I found Boris, a secondary character, so compelling that I began to create the list below. If you haven’t read these novels, I highly recommend them. If you write fiction, the biggest takeaway from the list is you have to develop your secondary characters with as much care as your hero and heroine.  Read the entire article.

Top 10 Villains in Literature

Heroes and heroines in literature stand out with the help of those we love to hate—villains. The best villains challenge, anger, and terrify us. They keep us reading as much as the protagonists. Who are your favorite antagonists? Read the entire article.

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

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