Do you look up to a character in a book, comic, or movie?
They may be fictional, but you know they can still influence you as much as any living breathing person.
I truly believe that. I grew up looking up to more fictional character than actual people. From the books I read to the video games I played, I had a variety of fictional heroes. These people were strong, determined, loyal, but were also vulnerable and conflicted. I can’t say whether or not my fascination had to do with my blossoming imagination, but I really connected with these characters.
Now you may think that flying and having super fast reflexes is the coolest thing ever. You may also be fascinated with extraordinary journeys through fantastic lands. We all are. What I think others don’t see is how we connect with the characters beyond the fiction. They may have super powers or accomplish extraordinary things, but we see beyond that.
Take Superman, for example. Here we have a superhero that can absorb solar energy, fly, has superhuman strength, x-ray vision, and heat vision. When people see a picture of superman or flip through a comic, these are the things they think of. When a fan thinks of Superman, they think of far more. They sympathize with his humble beginnings, appreciate his love for his family, and admire his dedication to protect others. These traits are what his fans really connect with.
When we understand their nature beyond all the fictitious elements, we are truly able to appreciate the character. At the same time, their negative traits make them human and more relatable. We may have experienced something similar to our favorite character and that makes them feel all the more real.
That is credit to the author/creator. They’ve breathed real life into these characters; so much so that we become fond of them, look up to them, strive to be like them.
Some of today’s society might look upon that as wrong. They might say that people who do that live in a fantasy world and that they’re not in touch with reality. I say this isn’t true. A story is a story, in my opinion. A book from the library might tell of the struggles of a man in a war, and I might read about a heroine who saved her kingdom. Both of these are stories, and stories can touch someone personally.
I believe that if the reader has an open mind and heart, he/she can see beyond the fantastical story and even superpowers to see the true nature of fictional characters. That is how we connect to the characters, learn from them, and are inspired by them.
The first fictional character that comes to mind when I wrote this was Sorcha of “Daughter of the Forest”, a novel written by Juliet Marillier. Sorcha is just a girl when she is tasked with saving her six brothers by sewing six shirts from a painful nettle plant in order to save them from a witch’s enchantment. The story details the dozens of sacrifices she must make in order to save her family. Her dedication, loyalty, and many other traits both positive and negative make her one of my favorite characters of all time. In reading her story, I found myself touched and inspired.
Feel free to share who your fictional heroes are below! 🙂