Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Inspire Me

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and The Bookish) is pretty open! Basically, we pick ten characters who do something. So I thought all day about a characteristic that I’d really like to examine a bit more closely, and finally at 11pm my time, it came to me!

Top Ten Characters Who Inspire Me

  1. Emma Woodhouse (from Pemberley Digital’s Emma Approved– A far more likeable modern version of my least favorite Jane Austen heroine, this Emma is all about the self-empowerment! She’s constantly encouraging (and sometimes forcing) every woman she meets to be the best they can be, without being someone they’re not. The most inspiring thing about Emma is that she’s always persistent when it comes to achieving a goal; nothing is impossible with hard work and the right attitude.
  2. Anne Shirley (from the Anne of Green Gables series) – Of course I would have to include my favorite fictional character in this list. I adore Anne’s creativity, open-mindedness, and her wild imagination. One of my favorite things she did was create a short-story club with her friends, where they would get together to share and critique their stories with each other. Plus she headed up I don’t know how many clubs and improvement projects. Definitely an over-achiever and take-charge kind of woman!
  3. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë’s beloved heroine) – Although I in no way envy Jane Eyre’s life, I do admire and respect many of her wonderful qualities. The ones that inspire me the most are her unfailing talent to forgive those who hurt her the most, her unfaltering senses of morality and self-respect, and her revolutionary ability of knowing what she deserved out of life. For a mid-19th century lower class orphan, Jane Eyre never believed she didn’t deserve happiness, but she certainly wouldn’t sacrifice her self-respect to obtain it. She’s also extremely good-hearted and patient.
  4. Beatrice “Tris” Prior (from the Divergent series) – I’m late in joining the Divergent fan club, but I am happy to admit that I finally read the novels (just so I could see the movie–I’m one of those “I always read the book” first type of gals)! Although this isn’t my favorite series, as I felt there were many things missing from the novels, I did love all the strong female characters! I definitely respect this trend going on at the moment. I related a lot to Tris: I know without a doubt that I would be a Divergent just like her, and I also would choose the Dauntless faction. My current mantra is “be brave,” and I owe it all to Tris’s bravery for giving me the courage to conquer some of the difficult tasks I’ve had to face lately.
  5. Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – Where to begin?! Atticus Finch is essentially the perfect parent. He’s intelligent, wise, patient, honorable, good, virtuous, AND he has a sense of humor. He leads by example and encourages his children to love and respect people, not the way the world would tell them to, but they way they deserve to be loved and respected. He doesn’t hide the ugliness of the world from his children, but he gradually opens their eyes to it in doses they can handle and come to terms with. Atticus Finch inspires me not only to be an inspiring parent one day, but he inspires me to be a good person each and every day.
  6. Scout Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – I couldn’t pick just one member of the Finch clan. Scout is one of my all-time favorite narrators. I love her young and innocent perspective of the world because it is so inspiring. She sees through the hard and calloused exteriors of people to their real, vulnerable hearts. Scout lives during a time of extreme social and racial prejudices, issues that would generally anger and disgust me, but through the pure and unblemished eyes of Scout, I finished this novel completely awestruck and inspired to find people I could treat as nicely as Scout and her father and brother did.
  7. Joanna Robbins (from Karen Witemeyer’s Stealing the Preacher) – I enjoy reading Christian Historical Romances from time to time, but I’ll admit they’re usually pretty cheesy. Karen Witemeyer is my favorite author in that genre, though, and it’s because she creates plot lines that aren’t cheesy, and her characters are so strong and inspiring that I feel uplifted for quite some time after reading her books. A quality that I admired about one of her heroines, Joanna Robbins, was accepting our physical appearances as God-given and something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about. Joanna herself wasn’t too keen on her red hair. Now I have red hair but I’ve always loved it so I must be the odd carrot-top out ;) But there are plenty of other things about my appearance that I don’t like, and I felt inspired by what Joanna said when she found herself downcast about her unusual hair color; she reminds herself that it is a gift from God: “Don’t despise it because it is different. See the beauty in His gift.”
  8. Esther (from The Bible) – If you ask most Christian women who their favorite woman of the Bible is, most likely they will say Esther. But if you know her story you will understand why. Esther is bold, courageous, and full of faith, and in many ways she would be the perfect heroine in a YA dystopian novel. She risks her life to protect her family and to do the right thing, and in a dire situation she summons the bravery to speak one of the most inspirational lines in the Bible: “If I perish, I perish.” It just makes me want to run into battle to defend all the things I believe in!
  9. Anne Elliot (from Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – I seem to take a liking to literary heroines named Anne ;) This Anne is probably my favorite Austen heroine. I know most people would choose Elizabeth Bennet, and although I myself take after Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey, good-hearted and pure Ms. Elliot just inspires me so much! She has a subtle yet much appreciated talent of bringing out the best in others (kind of like Emma, whom I mentioned at the top of this list, but not so much in-your-face), and there’s not a mean or malicious bone in her body. She thinks the best of everyone and is constantly looking for ways to serve others. Plus, she’s the type of person you would want near you in a crisis; she’ll be completely calm and manage to get everything done while the rest of the world freaks out or faints.
  10. Ginny Weasley (from the Harry Potter series) – My favorite Weasley :) I always admired Ginny’s strong will and fearless attitude. We don’t see much of her early on in the series, but in the last few books she becomes quite popular among the Dumbledore’s Army crowd, mainly because “she’s a beast,” as my old Cross Country pals would have said. I’d be afraid to face her in a battle or Quidditch game, but I’d love teaming up with her because I know she’d help me to be brave and bold when I’d naturally want to back down. Also, and spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read Harry Potter, but I don’t care what J.K. Rowling said recently; Harry belongs with Ginny, just like she wrote it, and not with Hermione.

There you have it! Which characters inspire you the most? Does anyone from my list make yours as well? I kept this list to literary characters, but there are plenty of screen characters who inspire me as well!

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Jane Austen’s Emma

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I wish all books were this pretty!

Emma by Jane Austen
Published Dec 1815 by John Murray
Classic/Romance
Format: e-book; 456 pages
Also From This Author: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Persuasion
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

This summer I was on a Jane Austen spree; I read Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and finally Emma. It was my first time reading it, although I was already familiar with the story because of the 1996 film version (featuring the worst period-era wig ever, courtesy of Ewan McGregor).

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Seriously, he looks like the Mad Hatter.

But I never really liked Emma as a character. She’s snobby, meddlesome, and rather immature (like when she gets upset at not being able to decline an invitation because she wasn’t even invited…ugh). However, after finally reading the novel I actually came to *like* Emma, or maybe I just really liked Mr. Knightley ;) His speech near the end was so sweet, and I love this little excerpt afterwards:

He had ridden home through the rain; and had walked up directly after dinner, to see how this sweetest and best of all creatures, faultless in spite of all her faults, bore the discovery. (Chapter 49)

So there were great, swoon-worthy parts of the novel. But the worst, the worst part about Emma is the Box Hill picnic, when Emma maliciously makes fun of Miss Bates in front of all their friends. Because I had already seen the 1996 movie before reading the novel, I was dreading, absolutely dreading that chapter the entire time. And while I was watching the movie again after finishing the novel, I even muted the TV for a good minute and a half during that one excruciating part. There are a handful of books that contain chapters which I dread reading that much, but at least we are able to truly see Emma’s repentant heart afterwards.

Jane Austen’s novels frequently convey the motif of misunderstandings, and Emma is stock-full of them. She misunderstands the attentions and actions of Mr. Elton, Mr. Frank Churchill, and if that isn’t enough, Mr. Knightley as well. Clearly Emma does not possess an appropriate skill-set in order to be a successful matchmaker. Each of Emma’s misunderstandings add to the humor and drama of the plot, but they also help Emma to mature before the reader, and while I started the novel with the opinion of Emma being vain, selfish, and snobby, I ended it admiring Emma for her kind heartedness, compassion, and humility. There were two instances in which I loved Emma the most, the first being after Mr. Elton’s proposal, when Emma feels worse for her friend Harriet than she does for herself:

Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some sort or other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light; and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken—more in error—more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was, could the effects of her blunders have been confined to herself. (Chapter 16)

I absolutely admired her selflessness in this passage, and it added greatly to my sympathy for Emma in the second instance, near the end of the novel, when she suspects Mr. Knightley is about to confess his feelings for Harriet. At first Emma silences Mr. Knightley, but then, seeing how she has pained him, puts her duty as a friend over her own heartbreak, and pleads for Mr. Knightley to speak of anything he would like to. That must have taken immense courage.

I am very glad I gave Emma another chance. Even though I would not consider it my favorite Jane Austen novel, nor would I consider any of the characters my most favorite or least favorite, it was an enjoyable read with memorable themes and humorous indirect dialogue, without which I doubt I would have been able to laugh at or sympathize with our headstrong heroine.