What kind of heroes are you attracted towards? The action-type? The cool type? Or the angry type?
All of us have preferences when it comes to the kind of people we like and have an affinity towards. This extends even to fiction. Some fictional characters have such great impact that they push us to develop certain traits and characters which become part of our identity!
In my case, I have a weakness for calm, cool and collected characters. Characters with nerves of steel. I would prefer having a calm guy/gal by my side who can out-think and outmaneuver the opposition through sheer brain power, than a wham-bamming brute force monkey!
Being a voracious reader, I have consumed loads of fictional novels since I was 12. Here are some characters who have stayed with me through the years and continue to inspire me with their coolness, wit and courage.
The epitome of coolness. This consulting detective was my first hero whom I tried to ape in every way possible when I was growing up. Sherlock’s supreme confidence in situations old and new, his ability to see beyond the obvious and his calm, unruffled composure inspired me whenever I felt fear and doubt in my own abilities.
Thanks to my obsession to be like him, I ended up studying about topics which made me something of a wonder-boy during my school days. I took to reading Physics, Toxicology and Philosophy with a relish and even went to the extent of collecting crime news clippings from dailies in order to hone my skills as a future detective!
These things seem silly when I look back now, but some of the qualities which I developed back then still help me out. Sherlock taught me to be fearless, driven and logical. He taught me to have the curiosity and the courage to learn about things which fascinate me. Given his ability to still inspire millions, it’s quite elementary he’s my favorite character isn’t it?
(Thank you Arthur Conan Doyle for creating this masterpiece!)
Dr. Ian Malcolm
My first encounter with Ian Malcolm was when I picked up the books Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton. Ian is a rebel mathematician and a chaos theorist who acts as a detached protagonist in the novels.
What struck me about Ian Malcolm was his ability to be the voice of reason (though an ironic one) when everyone around was excited and emotionally blinded. His accurate warnings about the downside of trying to control nature and attempting to bring back dinosaurs made him something of a genius to me.
His dry humor and his intellectual breadth appealed to the nerd in me and gave me the hunger to digest complex concepts which I would have otherwise never excelled at. Even now, when I am forced to learn stuff which I find hard to comprehend, I make myself step into the cool, rational mind of Ian Malcolm. This helps me power up my focus and learn them with ease.
John Galt / Howard Roark
Some young adults (referring to nut-cases such as me) between the ages of 20-23 have a tendency to turn into part-time philosophers. They are besotted by the quest of finding about the purpose of life and our place is in the grand scheme of things.
Enter Ayn Rand’s legendary books Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The sheer number of thinkers who have been influenced by these books is phenomenal. I am no exception. (I recommend them to anybody who has a love of reading)
Howard Roark and John Galt, to me represent the pinnacle of radical doer-thinkers. Self-made men in every aspect, they move through life with the fluidity, grace and assurance of divine beings. Armed with an objective mind, fearless disposition and a joy for living, these two heroes carved out a distinct path for themselves. Their philosophy of objectivism gave a fresh direction to my thoughts.
They taught me to develop the ability to withstand life’s tribulations with fortitude, through a firm faith in one’s own abilities, no matter how bad the situations around me.
Dirk Struan is the main character of the epic novel Tai-Pan written by British author James Clavell in 1966. He is the Tai Pan (Chinese for ‘Supreme leader’) who commands the respect and envy of everyone and trades through his trading company called the Noble House.
Dirk Struan is my favourite anti-hero who is a resourceful, tough and a cunning bastard. He is a self-made millionaire who loves the seas and is a fearless merchant. The novel is about his love for China, his challenges, adversities and how he comes out of them a sheer winner!
The Tai-Pan taught me the need to embrace change and adapt to dynamic situations. His ability to network with a wide variety of people and lead them in times of intense pressure make him an endearing character of mine.
No list of my favorite characters would be complete without The Godfather’s prodigal son. A complex character who is forced to take up the family mantle and deal with the ever-increasing violence of his enemies. A man who ruthlessly consolidates power so that he can escape it all. Only to be pulled back again.
Michael taught me never to be intimidated by anything. Whether it be power, stature or size. He also taught me the value of diplomacy over brute force. The need for level-headed thinking instead of impulsive decision making. His words of wisdom have helped me make many good decisions in my life.
What such characters show is the need to live life on your own terms. To be one of a kind. To be driven by a purpose and to excel in whatever you do. To walk the talk and leave a legacy behind which can inspire others to lead better lives
So who are the fictional characters responsible for molding you? Share them with me and the rest of the world…