Using Blogger’s handy scheduled-posts function, I’m actually writing this last Saturday… but by the time you read this, I’ll be fretting over my viva. I’ve handed in the first section of my DPhil, and an outline of the whole thing, and at noon on Friday I have to go and justify it to someone. I’m pretty dreadful at this sort of thing, so wish me luck… I won’t find out the result for another two or three weeks, but at least this bit will be over.
So I’m just going to have a discussion point for today… I wrote about Jude the Obscure ‘yesterday’ (actually, last Saturday… or about ten minutes ago, for me) and it struck me during our book group discussion that I didn’t like any of the characters in it – but I still liked the novel. There was some empathy for some of the characters, especially Mr. Phillotson (who somehow didn’t even get mentioned yesterday, but he’s, er, the fourth member of Abba, if you understand what I mean) but none of them were especially likeable.
I’m a firm believer that it’s possible to like, even love, a novel without liking the character. Does anybody like Emma, Lizzie, Marianne, Elinor, Anne, Catherine, and Fanny? (As you can see, they’re fighting it out in today’s sketch.) Yet plenty of people love all Austen’s novels. For the record, Anne is my black spot there… The fatal flaw is a unlikeable character whom the author wants you to like – but I didn’t get that feeling with Hardy.
So… unlikeable characters; likeable novel. Is it possible – and, if so, examples please! And maybe let me know which Austen heroine rubs you up the wrong way, too…