The first one, by Hamlette, brought me to this Tumblr where Charity types fictional characters by Myers-Briggs, and discusses MBTI personality types.
The second post, also by Hamlette, is an older post where she discussed why she loves certain characters and/or stories. Both posts really made me think.
I already knew that I was random, but I have now decided that I must be really narcissistic or really emotional or both. I made lists of my favorite characters and my favorite stories in my downtime at work. Like Hamlette, I wanted to see if there was a common thread. I also took a couple of tests to see what MBTI type I was, and it seems like I'm an ESFJ. "The Caregiver" I wasn't sure at first, but I did run the boys' lives from birth until they were big enough to beat me up. Teehee.
But now that I've looked through my lists, it starts to make sense.
Some stories I like without really having a favorite character. I like all the characters equally because they're all equally important to the story. Some characters I love to pieces, while the story is just so-so for me. The story can be really great or really horrid, but I'll read or watch it just because I love the character.
I'm not sure if that explains it very well, but here's what else I discovered. When I studied my stories list, two things stuck out to me: "impressive", "nostalgia". When I studied my characters list, five things stuck out: "male", "female", "admire", "identify", "sympathize".
Let me explain.
If I own a book or movie...
1. It's because I'm impressed by it.
My two favorite Ted Dekker books are Skin and Adam. And they're not warm and fuzzy favorites. They're deep and disturbing favorites. Adam was the first Dekker I read, and I remember being awed by the deep theology. I read Skin in 4 hours: a decision both brilliant and misguided. I questioned my psychological existence for the rest of the day. Similarly, I picked up Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale, for free in 2007, I think, and I've read it at least 5 times since. If you are a girl, or if you know a girl, get this book. It's a wonderful story about growing up and finding your strength. Because of this, I can't pick a favorite character. Oh, and Monster, by Frank Peretti, is something every Christian should attempt to read. Evolution vs. Creation is a pretty hot debate, and this book certainly opens up some thought-provoking ideas. I read it in 4 hours, too, and it very nearly blew my mind.
2. It's because I grew up with it.
Probably 80% of my favorites fall under this. An Old-Fashioned Girl, Love Comes Softly, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wind in the Willows, Christy, The Boxcar Kids.....all of these are stories that I watched or read repeatedly as a child. Fiddler on the Roof is one of the three movies my go-getter mother will actually sit down for. The Sound of Music is the sole reason I ever started singing, and it's all my dad's fault. ;-) I only owned about 10 Boxcar Kids books, but I read them until I nearly had them memorized. I remember trying to use their detective tricks once to figure out who was coming over for dinner. (I failed, but it was interesting effort at least.) And thanks to the Christy series, I had an undying crush on the Reverend David Grantland for at least 6 years. Until I read the actual book a couple years ago, which simultaneously crushed my childhood dreams and gave me a whole new appreciation for Miss Huddleston's work.
3. Or it's because I'm a groupie.
Some books or movies I wouldn't love half as much if I didn't have friends or brothers to enjoy them with. I can't remember which of us kids had The Wind in the Willows for literature one year, but the boys and I ended up writing a screenplay about Toad crashing his new car, and we went around saying "poop-poop" for 2 months. The boys and I quote Napoleon Dynamite without even thinking about, and my girlfriends and I compete to see who can bring an Austenland quote into the conversation first. (Our official leave-taking phrase is "Tally-Ho!") With Tolkien or the Avengers, there's so many characters that we start pegging people. Our youth group was so small and diverse that it usually works perfectly. In the Avengers, we have Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow (who doubles as Peggy Carter), and Jane Foster (me). [The fact that we have an Agent Carter and a Jane Foster should pretty well explain why nobody--and I mean NOBODY--gets pegged as Captain America or Thor. ;-) ] In Tolkien, we have Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas, Eomer, Eowyn (me), Arwen, Tauriel, and Galadriel.
And then there's my characters. This is where I get all embarrassed and self-conscious, because I've realized that I get way, way too "into" characters. First, I approach a character differently if they're male or female, and I must be the only person who does this. (I know why I do it, and it's just because of my life, and for that reason, it seems a bit silly.) Second, I tend to favorite unique or supporting characters. I don't like to just jump on bandwagons, but I think it's because I like an underdog, too.
Essentially, I like a female character if...
1. She's my mirror.
Reason #1Aa1.1I I love Emma Woodhouse Knightley. We're so alike it's almost annoying. We meddle in people's business, and we know everything, of course. Effie Trinket: I said it in Hunger Games, I said it in Catching Fire, I said it in Mockingjay 1, and I'll say it in Mockingjay 2. "I. Am. Effie. Trinket." In the middle of horribly depressing situations, we put on a saccharinely silly disposition to try to forget everything around us. Mia Thermopolis and I have the same life motto: "The concept is grasped, the execution is a little...elusive." We also trip over things all day long. Glinda Uplander and I are like blonde glitter sisters. Pink fixes everything, you know. (My best friend is Elphaba Thropp, so it's perfect, yes.) Penelope Garcia and I have the same idea: if you mix a few big words into your conversation, everyone else gets a kick out of it. Plus, they think you're super smart, when really you just love words. And then there's Margaret Hale Thornton. *sigh* The parallels I could draw between her and me are uncanny. "A father who had to leave the church and move the family to a place we never wanted to go. A mother who hated living there. An older brother who nearly broke the mother's heart. Being shunned and misunderstood by basically everyone around. Being stubbornly set in your opinions. Judging other people too quickly. Being thrown in a culture totally different than what you grew up in. Eating your words. Playing peacemaker." Suffice it to say that it was physically painful to watch Mrs. Hale's reaction to Milton. :/
2. Or she makes me look horrible.
I am in awe of Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. She is seriously amazing. Polly Milton Shaw is the epitome of a lady. I will never be as great as she, but I will die trying. Ignoring her ridiculously bad social skills, Dr. Temperance Brennan is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Sammy Lane Matthews is surprisingly shrewd, and I applaud her growth. I wanted to hug Kitty Pryde in DOFP, but, honestly, she didn't even need a hug, because she is Kitty Pryde, thank you very much. And Martha Lucinda Claridge Davis...I love how her faith plays out in her day-to-day life. Steady, faithful, honest, without parading it or pushing it. She also taught me never to use water to clean chinking in a log cabin. That's a good housekeeping tip to remember. LOL.
Then there's the male characters, who are about half and half. I applaud myself for not picking just hot guys, but when I compared my men, I'm afraid one of my common themes isn't much better.
After further review, it appears I gravitate towards male characters who...
1. Are sweet or sensitive or gentle. In a non-weak way.
I don't know why. (Actually, I have a two-page answer to why I like Thor, but that's...not here, not now.) When I tried to think of the first moment--in a movie, at least--when I first thought "I like him. I like him a lot"--it was usually in a scene where the character was hurt, or vulnerable, or softhearted. And the character in general is a gentle-soul type of person. I spent nearly all of TTDW resisting the urge to hug the TV, because poor Thor really goes through the wringer. I've only seen one episode of Combat! so far, but my first exposure to it was a book called Counterattack, and Caje's quiet, fierce protection of a French civilian boy really stuck out to me. (And then I watched "No Trumpets, No Drums", which firmly cemented him as a favorite.) Spock...well, I have absolutely zero explanation for that one. I watched Into Darkness first, and then Star Trek, and I just remember falling head over heels in love with him. It must have been when Vulcan was destroyed. Then there's Beastie-boy. What a guy. I saw him in DOFP first, and I liked him a lot, and then I saw First Class, and his face when the other mutant teens are like "Let's see your 'problem', we're cool with it." He can't hardly believe he's finally accepted, and that look.....yeah, I was hopeless. :-)
(But this at least explains why I so fiercely defend P&P '05 against '95: Matthew MacFadyen made Darcy much more sensitive and approachable than Colin Firth did. Let the purists take what they like; I like my men approachable. ;-) )
2. Are admirable examples of fine gentlemen.
[oh, come on; whose picture did you think I was gonna use?]
Again with the admiring. I love Mr. Knightley so, so much, because he's so smart, and so stinkin' right. In reality, I'd probably get into multiple fights with him, but in fiction, he amazes me. I admire the book Darcy for the same reason. Clark Davis is another good example, as is Tom Shaw. Tom hit a few speed bumps before he got his act together, but all along, he was a good guy. Faramir is another. So noble, so honest, so brave, so selfless. John Thornton--I think I'd hit him, too, but realistically, it would humbling to think such a good man would ever be okay with me. And then before I wax introspective AGAIN, yes, I'm going to mention Thor. He's like Tom--took him a bit to get better, but I love him all the more for having those struggles.
So there you have it. A super-long, super-detailed look into my reactions to fiction. Having typed myself as ESFJ kind of clarifies some of these, but I'm still learning about the whole MBTI thing. If you're curious, I suggest checking out Charity's Tumblr. (But be careful: it's black hole of curiosity. ;-) )
But now I pass on Hamlette's questions: what draws you to certain characters? Why are your favorite stories your favorites? Do you think it reflects anything about you?
(Okay, I added that last one. ;-) )