Finding a common thread between likeable and unlikeable in drama pieces is a fine line to walk on. Characters that inhabit these pieces of literature are often multidimensional and open to interpretation as the authors themselves have intended.
Some of the best characters in dramatic literature writing however have left a permanent mark on the literary world and their echoes resonate throughout centuries. We will take a look at some of the notable examples and try to weigh their shades of grey against one another to determine what makes a good dramatic character work.
Humbert Humbert, Lolita
Finding a devious mischief with a likeable personality in dramatic literature isn’t as difficult as it seems. Humbert Humbert is a character in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and is one of the many reasons why women in literature are wooed by strong male characters.
Nabokov’s portrayal of Humbert leaves nothing to be desired apart from a bitter end for the character himself – he is a manipulative and scheming individual that makes us care for him nonetheless. The artistry in which Nabokov has managed to portray such a character as multifaceted and tragic can be attributed to the period in which the author lived and wrote.
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mocking Bird
We all know and love the father figure of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird as much as anyone else. The lawyer/moralist figure portrayed here is so far apart from Humbert but still occupies the well-established dramatic literature writing we have grown accustomed to.
Rounding up the trio of best dramatic characters in this piece we have Sethe, everyone’s favorite tragic woman in literature. Sethe is a woman that falls into a category very much wedged between Atticus and Humbert, leaving nothing to be desired about her. The pain and desperation she goes through in Toni Morrison’s Beloved can be attributed to the author’s understanding and willingness to portray a female figure as realistically as possible, without unnecessary romanticism tropes we have grown accustomed to.
With every facet of despair, Sethe resonates with hope for a brighter future, one which can only be obtained through struggle and more necessary pain. Readers would be wrong in dismissing her initial weakness and insecurity for complete surrender. As with Atticus and Humbert, her initial state is far different than the one we find her in at the end of Morrison’s novel. This is what makes her drama and fight for personal victory that much more relatable.
Summarizing the pieces
These characters are products of fiction, but we can often find more correlation to their lives and thoughts than we would to most people around us. This very fact is what makes them some of the best drama characters in literature, and is the reason for their enduring longevity despite the years that have worn them down. We encourage readers to take a look at all three novels and develop a personal opinion on each of these characters and their distinct personalities before making the final call on which one should take the spotlight as the best one.