Like Bridget Jones in her eponymous diary, I will confess to a deep, abiding crush on Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, flaws and all. He's no alpha hero, mind you, at least not in a Harlequin Presents sort of way. In fact, he's socially awkward, more than a bit stuffy and has a bad habit of putting his pride before his good sense. He also wins the award for one of the worst marriage proposals in the history of literature.
But I wuv him.
His flaws are part of what makes him so appealing to me, because they allow me to identify with him and appreciate his assets. I know his haughty exterior masks a painful social shyness. I can appreciate that he feels as if he's a piece of meat in a market, priced at ten thousand pounds a year,, and any woman who looks his way may be seeing a living rather than a man.
And when he falls so hard and so painfully for Lizzy Bennet, who is a bad match for him in every way except for the deepest desires of his heart, his flaws guarantee his road to happiness will be long, painful and anything but certain, despite his fortune. How can you not root for a fellow like that?
Readers and writers alike talk about loving characters who are flawed, and we do. But that doesn't mean we all love the same flawed characters, or that we love them in the same way. While Darcy makes me want to take him home and give him some hot chocolate and a cookie, Edward Rochester of Jane Eyre makes me want to punch him in the kisser. (Though I still desperately want him to be with Jane in the end, even if he doesn't deserve her, because that's what Jane wants and I adore Jane).
One of the most flawed characters I've ever rooted for was James "Sawyer" Ford on the television show Lost. When we first meet Sawyer, he's selfish, boorish and thoroughly unrootable. And yet, we get glimpses now and then of grace, so thickly covered by his shortcomings that we often wonder what we're seeing and if we're just fooling ourselves.
But over the course of the series, so slowly at first that the progress defines the word "glacial," we see the evolution of Sawyer from a villain to a hero. He triumphs and fails, inspires and disappoints, takes steps forward and falls back spectacularly, but you find yourself hoping he finds that elusive joy he can't even define but so desperately wants.
The flawed characters are the ones we remember the most, especially when a story takes us on a roller coaster journey from despair to redemption. I've just shared a few of my favorite flawed characters.
Who are some of yours?