Great literary works gave us many memorable characters throughout the centuries. Are you familiar with many of them?
Many of these unforgettable fictional friends are the prototypes of personalities we see in different stories today. If plot patterns in storytelling get rehashed and improved upon time and again, the same process happens with characters as well. These characters even come alive outside of literary pages, as we can see them manifest in various forms of media in modern times.
Film and TV characters, even those we encounter in comic books and practically all kinds of art, all have characteristics attributed to an iconic classic literary character, in parts or altogether. From the way they look, their behavior, their innate goodness or their conniving schemes, these literary characters become archetypes that get transformed into various stereotypes and tropes. Look closely, and you'll notice these, too! If you're a bookworm who loves to read the classics, then these are probably familiar to you already.
So, do you want to see your familiarity with these great characters? We'll describe them and their situation a bit, and choose which novel they appeared in. Sounds cool? Then let's get busy!
Aside from being a novelist, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote short stories, notably "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" which is very different in tone than the movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt. His 1925 novel, "The Great Gatsby," was adapted by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann in 2013.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen's 1813 novel created one of the most memorable female characters in classic literature. That is Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." She is the one who questioned many social mores of her era, especially when it came to marriage.
Prior to 1950s, the concept of teen angst was practically unheard of in mainstream society until two major works encompassed what that concept is about. First was J.D. Salinger's 1951 novel "The Catcher in the Rye" and the second was the 1955 film "Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean.
Charlotte Brontë was one of the famed Brontë sisters who were also literary writers, namely Anne and Emily . She is most recognized for writing the 1847 novel "Jane Eyre" and also the novel "Villette" published in 1853.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first featured detective Sherlock Holmes in 1887's "A Study in Scarlet." However, his third Sherlock novel, 1902's "The Hound of the Baskervilles," made more impact in popular culture and solidified Sherlock's stature in literary history.
Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel "Gone with the Wind" was a huge bestseller when it came out, and it continues to be one of the most popular American novels ever written. The book won for her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Its 1939 film adaptation is also considered a classic.
Harper Lee's 1960 novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird," won for her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. This was her first and only known novel for decades, until her second book entitled "Go Set A Watchman" was published in 2015, months prior to her death in 2016.
Truman Capote's 1958 work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," is considered as a novella, which is a longer work than a regular short story, but it falls short of being a full-blown novel. Nonetheless, this remains one of Capote's most popular works, inspired by his experiences in New York social circles. He is probably most well-known for his nonfiction work "In Cold Blood."
Franz Kafka's 1915 novel "The Metamorphosis" captured the imagination of the world when it came out. Its original version was written in German, and it was entitled "Die Verwandlung" which roughly translates to "The Transformation."
Nathaniel Hawthorne's famed 1850 novel, "The Scarlet Letter," falls under the historical fiction category we know now. The novel is set in the 1600s and its full title is "Scarlet Letter: A Romance."
Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness" was published in 1902, and it's the work that Francis Ford Coppola partly drew from when he made his 1979 film "Apocalypse Now." Conrad's central character is named Kurtz, and Marlon Brando's character was named Kurtz; they share similar characteristics.
The 1865 novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is often referred to in its shorter name of "Alice in Wonderland." Penned by Lewis Carroll, it introduced many beloved quirky characters such as the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, and the Hatter, though he's not named "mad" in the original.
Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 opus "Stranger in a Strange Land" is an interesting study on how a human being reacts to seeing and being with fellow human beings for the first time in his life. The novel's title is now a popular trope in storytelling similar to the "fish out of water" concept trope.
Louisa May Alcott was a novelist raised by progressive parents, and she was exposed to fellow literary figures such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, to name a few. She is best remembered for her 1868 novel "Little Women" and the 1871 novel "Little Men."
Ernest Hemingway captured the life of an elderly fisherman in Cuba named Santiago in his 1952 novel called "The Old Man and the Sea." This great work is the recipient of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Contrary to popular belief, "Frankenstein" is the name of the scientist who created an unnamed creature in Mary Shelley's famous novel. First published in 1818, the novel was classified as a mixture of gothic and romantic traditions, and it was only alluded to as a sci-fi work in modern times.
Ian Fleming wrote many espionage novels featuring the dapper British agent James Bond. His first novel ever was also the first time this character appeared in print, particularly in the 1953 novel called "Casino Royale." Fleming wrote 11 more Bond novels after that one.
"Les Misérables" produced many of author Victor Hugo's most popular characters which are always referenced in modern pop culture. Aside from its protagonist-antagonist tandem of Jean Valjean and Javert, the 1862 novel also has notable women such as Fantine, Cosette, and the heartbroken Éponine.
Patricia Highsmith is known to inject queer themes in her novels, such as Tom's perceived homosexuality in the 1955 novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and the explicit lesbian-themed 1952 novel "The Price of Salt." That latter novel was the basis of the 2014 film "Carol" with Cate Blanchett.
"Far From the Madding Crowd," Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel, got its title from a line in the poem called "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" penned by Thomas Gray. Many authors of the early era regularly used novel titles with words that came from lines of poetry.
J.R.R. Tolkien's narratives involving Middle-earth and its many characters captured the imagination of legions of fans, especially with the 1950s publication of "The Lord of the Rings." Originally just one huge book, his publishers insisted that they release it in three volumes.
Daphne du Maurier's successful 1938 novel called "Rebecca" is classified as a gothic novel, and it's obvious by the elements of the book that it's indeed horrific, but more of in a psychological sense. This sensation is brought to higher creepy standards by the imposing character of Mrs. Danvers.
John Steinbeck wrote about characters affected by huge events in history, such as the Great Depression in America. His 1937 novella "Of Mice and Men" featured this scenario, featuring the lead characters named George Milton and his fellow ranch worker named Lennie Small, who's actually a huge man.
Social climber Becky Sharp is the creation of British author William Makepeace Thackeray who featured her prominently in his 1848 novel called "Vanity Fair." His novels are largely satirical in nature, and are often seen as critiques of British society.
It's interesting to note that the original title of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novel is "A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas." The first publication of this popular book contained illustrations made by John Leech.
Ayn Rand is the author connected to a philosophical movement called Objectivism, which she also spread by infusing it in her literary works. One of those works is the 1957 novel entitled "Atlas Shrugged," as well as in the earlier novel called "The Fountainhead" published in 1943.
Even great works such as "Catch-22" takes a long time to see the light of print. Author Joseph Heller began writing this novel in the 1950s, but it was only published in 1961 by Simon & Schuster publishing company.
Virginia Woolf is part of the intellectuals of the early 1900s referred to as "The Bloomsbury Group" who lived and circulated within the fashionably bohemian cultural district of Bloomsbury in England. One of her popular novels is "Mrs. Dalloway," first published by U.K.'s Hogarth Press in 1925.
The literary device called stream of consciousness tries to capture how a mind's often jumping and disjointed thought processes flow and progress, usually manifested through interior monologues. James Joyce, particularly in his 1922 novel "Ulysses," was one of the pioneers of this literary style.
Detective fiction writer Agatha Christie wrote many novels and short stories featuring the character of Miss Marple, an elderly woman who tries to be a sleuth from time to time. One of the novels she appeared in is 1962's "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side" which also became a film.
Oscar Wilde's controversial 1891 novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" features a narcissistic young man who made an evil deal wherein he will stay young and beautiful for a long time, as an oil painting portrait of his will manifest the aging due him. This novel was adapted into film many times.
Bram Stoker wrote many novels and short stories in his lifetime, but he is best remembered for his 1897 gothic novel entitled "Dracula." It was first adapted into film in 1922 as "Nosferatu" by F. W. Murnau. But since they didn't ask for permission for the adaptation, they were sued for it.
Magical realism is a literary style wherein realistic world happenings get populated by magical or fantastic elements, often without the need to justify their existence, as they mesh well within the story. Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 1967 novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is a prime example of this.
Emily Brontë, one of the famed Brontë sisters, published only one novel in her lifetime, 1847's "Wuthering Heights," before passing away at age 30. She originally used a pseudonym for it. But when sister Charlotte's "Jane Eyre" hit it big, Emily reintroduced her novel without the pseudonym.
In today's lingo, the term "Lolita" refers to a young (often underage) girl who already shows sexual maturity that's too early for her age to exhibit. This term comes from Vladimir Nabokov's provocative and controversial 1955 novel of the same title.