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Your Influential Fictional Characters

Who are the fictional characters local or foreign that have an influence, or those that even fascinate you?

Here is my article about influential charcaters:

Real Powers, Unreal People:
Philippines’ Ten Most Influential Fictional Characters

Lucy Pollard-Gott, a Ph.D. psychologist specializing in the psychology of the arts with research discussing topics such as the structure of fairy tales, attribution theory and the novel, and the poetry of Wallace Stevens, made a survey of 100 influential fictional characters in the world.

Hmmm, fictional and influential? You wonder. Well, of course. Fictional characters may not have a directly tangible acts, but they can have influence. Pollard-Gott says, “In our private reading, viewing, or listening experiences--moreover, in their widespread cultural presence--fictional people live in us and through us. They influence us personally: as childhood friends, catalysts to our dreams of achievement, or even fantasy lovers…Characters can change the world: Witness the impact of Solzhenitsyn's Ivan Denisovich, in exposing the conditions of the Soviet Gulag, or Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom, in arousing sympathies (however patronizing and belated) for those oppressed by slavery in America.”

Of course, the authors of these fictional characters are the ones that exert the powers of change and influence. But like the works of art themselves, fictional characters assume a separate lives apart from their authors, although always couched in their literary and artistic structure and associations.

Inpired by her efforts, I made a loose survey of Philippines’ Ten Most Influential Fictional Characters. Making the survey present many difficulties. Primary is that the Philippines is not a reading nation. Although fictional characters can be drawn from films and other media, the fictional character is foremost and essentially a literary creation.

Another is that since Philippines is heavily influenced by the Western world, most characters are of foreign origins, leaving the original characters in the margins. And oftentimes rightly so as these characters lacks depth and impact. They are merely representations of images rather than ideas, are figures rather than well-rounded characters that connote lifestyles, certain facets of human nature, meanings, etc. In short, representation rather than character.

Anyway, here is the effort.

Maria Clara. Beautiful but self-effacing. Demure and conservative. Always dressed in baro’t saya. Coyly hiding behind a fan. These are descriptions of Maria Clara, the tragic heroine of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. She has become a fashion and personality icon, much idealized and much lambasted. She is idealized as being the model for Filipinas, prim, proper and virtuous.

Sisa. The madwoman-martyr of Philippine literature and then of Philippine culture and society. Sisa, in Noli Me Tangere, goes mad on the loss of her children, Crispin and Basilio. Thus, Sisa is often portrayed crying “Crispin! Basilio!” Sisa is said to represent the country, which is very “motherly” but weak. Unfortunately, she became the perception of mental illness that portrayals of mentally-ill persons are, more or less, derived from Sisa.

Dona Victorina. Yet another Noli character. She is a caricature of social-climbing, tawdriness and the noveau riche lifestyle. She is made up to excess, so sycophantic to the Spanish authorities and contemptuous of the low-brow and the poor, although she herself exhibits bad taste and lack of breeding.

Crisostomo Ibarra. Actually, the Rizal personality fictionalized. He is the Filipino as idealized by Rizal, free-thinking, intelligent, dignified and educated. He is also Rizal’s personification of Rizal’s idea of how the Philippines can be emancipated: by education. He becomes a target of the Spanish authorities, subsequently vanished and reappeared in the sequel El Filibusterismo under an assumed named and personality.

Florante and Laura. This is a package deal, because they can’t stand alone on their own for their cultural meaning stems from their being together, as they symbolize love overcoming extreme difficulties, even the great divide of culture, family and religion. Florante and Laura are the main characters of the great metrical romance of arguably the greatest Filipino poet, Francisco Balagtas.

The Manananggal. The self-segmenting, vampire-like monster is the most popular creature of the Philippine lower mythology and enjoys life and belief even in these modern times. Any story or film that asks for a native monster for the hero’s disposal can rely on good ol’ Manananggal. They scare us as kids and the adults, too. In real life, she makes appearance in the city that creates a virtual hysteria among the people. Such phenomenon was used as metaphor in Jessica Zafra’s Manananggal Terrorizes Manila and Other Stories.

Juan Tamad. A favorite folk character, Juan Tamad figures in many humorous anecdotes recounting his famous laziness and other antics. Sometimes, he is critically cited to symbolize a part of the Filipino nature.

Darna. Our local version of Wonder Woman and the Philippines’ most famous superhero. Many girls (and some boys) tuck hankies in their shorts hitched up to make them look skimpy like bikini, and wear headbands and imagine flying a la Darna. And I forget, shouting “Darna!” is one of the most fun part. Popular actresses has portrayed Darna on films like Vilma Santos, Alma Moreno, Rio Locsin, Sharon Cuneta, Nanette Medved, and Anjanette Abayari.

Lola Basyang. Purveyor of entertaining tales, almost 400 of them, a creation and alter ego of early 20th century writer Severino Reyes, who is also famous for seditious plays and zarzuelas like Walang Sugat. She is a grandmother figure beloved by kids, before television and video games replaced her.

Maria Makiling. Another character associated with Jose Rizal, although the story of Maria Makiling circulates as a folktale. Maria Makiling is the most famous diwata or fairy, who resides in Mt. Makiling.

The World’s Ten by Lucy Pollard-Gott

This list, which excludes machines, gods and animals, is part of Pollard-Gott’s upcoming book, The Fictional 100.

1. Hamlet. Shakespeare's magnificent Dane-in-the-doldrums takes first place, not least for the unsurpassed fame of his musing "To be, or not to be." He talks more than any other Shakespearean creation (making the Guinness Book of Records), and is, by many measures, the character most talked about (the 1997 Modern Language Association's International Bibliography reports 2,310 sources on Hamlet, the most for any character on the Fictional 100). The ultimate isolated, tortured soul, Hamlet still gets around-one is as likely to see him on stage in Tokyo as in Topeka.

2. Odysseus. Quick-witted and crafty (remember the Trojan Horse?), and ruthless as well, this versatile playboy of the Mediterranean world was irresistible to human women and goddesses alike. And who else could shoot an arrow through 12 axes? His 3000-year cultural odyssey has continued all the way to 20th century Dublin, guided by the pen of James Joyce.

3. Don Quixote. A hero in his own mind, he has been perhaps the most beloved character of the novel. Miguel de Unamuno thought Quixote was more real than his creator, Cervantes! The loquacious Don and his sidekick Sancho Panza have spawned many renowned duos, from Holmes and Watson to Batman and Robin. Lance drawn, tilting at windmills, Quixote's gentle madness sprang from his own obsession with the fictions he read. He drew many others into his fantasy world-and still does.

4. Eve. Biblical mother of us all, she is the first to claim humanity's gift of free choice, for good or ill. Her inclusion does not mean there was no such woman, only that she belongs to the legendary prehistory of our species (and would not appear in an ordinary biographical dictionary with historical figures whose approximate dates ar


  • davanitadavanita chunky PExer
    Here goes:

    1. Lucas Davenport - now, I know it's a guy but I sooo wanted to be a detective and he's like this very invincible cop/detective I wanted to be! :D

    2. Holden Caulfield - what can I say? He's the ultimate adolescent hero! :D

    esep-esep pa ako... :D
  • davanitadavanita chunky PExer
    asterisk : your article? you write? in what magazine/newpaper? i'd like to read more of your pieces! btw, the list is just perfect! :D
  • miguel nmiguel n Member PExer
    Para sa akin (and please dont laugh :) )
    1. Sherlock Holmes
    2. Captains Kirk, Spock and Piccard of the Star Trek Novels (sabing wag tatawa eh!)
    3. I agree with the poster who said Holden Caufield :)

    I'll think of others pa...
  • nadesiconadesico rx_queen PExer
    davanita: holden caulfield is the ultimate adolescent hero....
    there's Seymour Glass--he really made me think
  • Minus HumanMinus Human Member PExer
    The Pan Off to Nevernever Land!!!

    goth-home.gif Barely breathing
  • rainsongrainsong frisbyterian PExer
    1) Gandalf
    2) Frodo
    3) Ponyboy Curtis

    (babaw ba? hehe)
  • flydermanflyderman Prendli Neyborhud PExer
    1. The Hardy Boys :)
    2. Poe's version of Sherlock Holmes (forgot the name; appeared in Murders In Rue Morgue, The Gold Bug, etc...)
    3. Gandalf din! :D
    4. Merlin (De Moivre D'Arthur or something)
    5. Dream & Death of The Endless
    6. Fr. Damien Karras
  • vijdaqvijdaq bisayang dako PExer
    A comment on Pollard-Gott's choices:

    The glaringly obvious omissions include Faust, Dante, Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Huck Finn, Meursault, Raskolnikov, Gilgamesh...

    What I find fascinating about these characters are their roles in defining national psyches. Hamlet, though technically a Dane, is the quintessential Englishman. Every Englishman recognizes something of himself in Hamlet, just as every Spaniard sees himself in Don Quixote, and every German sees himself in Faust.

    Every Italian sees something of himself in Dante, or something of herself in Beatrice; every Frenchman sees a part of himself in Meursault, and every Frenchwoman a part of herself in Madame Bovary; Russians see themselves in Raskolnikov or Anna Karenina; Americans see themselves in Huck Finn...

    Their ability to define national identity, not by externals such as dress or food, but by accurate maps of the psyche, is what makes these characters so powerful, so memorable.

    I hesitate to name a Filipino fictional character who is as quintessentially Filipino as Hamlet is English, as Quixote is Spanish, as Faust is German. If our writers have yet to produce such a character perhaps it's not so much their fault as our culture's; we're still evolving, we're still inchoate (as Fr. Miguel Bernad puts it in an essay of his), we're still a Third World country. Our literature is not quite up to that task yet. Rizal's Ibarra comes close, but I hold it against him (Ibarra) that the novels he inhabits were written in Spanish. I write in English myself; shaking off our colonial fetters hasn't been that easy. But I believe a truly Filipino character can only come out of a work written in an indigenous Filipino language.

    [This message has been edited by vijdaq (edited 07-21-2000).]
  • damarisdamaris Member PExer
    Nadesico: yes, Seymour is to die for. I dream of him as a lover that someday I will meet. But fantasy aside he’s the one, I think, who defined my spiritual conquest (so to speak) but it was zooey who grounded me to the earth in franny and zooey. These 2, or 3 counting franny are an absolute religious experience!

    Other fictional characters who fascinated me:

    1.Oedipus: well, what can I say, the question of fate always had me reeling.
    2.Elias of Noli me Tangere. “Oh, you who will see the dawn!”. This novel along with it’s other characters really got me confused with historical reality and so with it’s counterpart, El Fili. Even now, with all our political problems I always find myself thinking, if only Isagani hadn’t interfered with Simoun in blowing up that stinking patriarchal society.
    3.Raskolsnikov of Crime and Punishment and his alter ego in Sartre’s short story, who’s title unfortunately, I can’t recall.
    4.This one, don’t laugh, Stripes and Yellow, the two caterpillar in the short story, Hope for the Flowers. Anybody remember that in college? Of dreams, finding the top, and anything in between.
    5.I’m struggling to find a female character to even out the list but I’m having as little difficulty. There’s the 2 female characters in No Exit, by, guess who, Sartre again, who I like. Somebody remind me of their names. But I can’t decide who of them I liked better. This identification with fictional characters game reveals a lot in our own characters. Of who we are. OR WHO WE’D LIKE TO THINK WE ARE.
    6.And yes, of course, there’s Sisa. This god-forsaken woman who I imagine is me in the 20? 21st? (sorry, not a math wiz) century. Jeers, and winks aside, I fancy myself abandoned by the world in general and finding solace in lunacy.
    7.In Greek mythology, (again) there’s Sisyphus, the eternal rock pusher (no pun intended, but here’s the chance, E, anyone?). Hay, this blasted life of finding comfort in the words of strangers, talking to unknown people without a face- so much like pushing rock only for it to roll down again. Senseless, still…
    8.comment on filipino characters: the one above me is absolutely right. So long as there is classic filipino write up, so to speak... habambuhay tayong titingin sa kanluran para sa mga ganitong pagkakataon. We can't help it, and this is no apologia. WE have been raised by Dr. Seuss and this is the consequence.

  • jerryoleajerryolea Member PExer
    1. claudia in anne rice's "interview with the vampire" -- ka-b-day ko.
    2. judas in nikos kazantzaki's "the last temptation of christ"
    3. gabrieel in salman rushdie's "the satanic verses"
    4. jennifer parker in sidney sheldon's "rage of angel"
    5. jason bourne in robert ludlum's "bourne" trilogy
    6. christina rosenthal in jeffrey archer's short story "christina rosenthal"
  • hudyathudyat feelingstrangelyfine PExer
    1. Holden Caulfield: The ultimate rebel, the voice that we carry but can never say. He is our conscience in the world whenever we see the phonies of life.

    2. Jesus in The Last Temptation: A tortured soul who appeared human and suffering.

    Thats all I can think of so far...
  • kikoykikoy may kikay ba dyan? PExer
    Rurouni Kenshin
  • iostreamiostream Member PExer
    lara croft!

    yep, capt. kirk, spock, and bones... dunno if i like picard though... IMHO kirk would kick picard's home-for-the-aged behind any day! picard almost never gets into physical combat, unlike kirk...

    robert hienlein. well, ok so he's not fictional, he's the author of the original novel Starship Troopers, written shortly after world war II. fyi, he invented the power-armor suit concept in science fiction. Iron Man borrowed the concept from him. i guess indirectly all the mecha in anime descended also from heinlein's original concept. also, the suits in heinlein's novel were far more destructive than the animated show in Studio 23. they were big, like 2-ton metal gorillas, and they covered miles in one jet-assisted jump, and they carried nuclear missiles, and they never stayed closer than three miles with each other in attack formation because of the destructive range of their weapons. and the lead character, Rico is really Juan "Johnny" Rico, a FILIPINO! in the movie and the animated show, he's american... #$^&&*

    ok enough angst. who else nga ba?.... kenshin! a.k.a samurai X! and Eugene/Yusuke of ghostfighter too... which character/show introduced the philippine masses to anime anyway?

    [This message has been edited by iostream (edited 07-24-2000).]

    [This message has been edited by iostream (edited 07-24-2000).]
  • EinaEina Member PExer
    Since vijdaq mentioned Faust, I came to think of Werther (Sorrows of Young Werther), another character created by Goethe. He was influential in a concrete and disturbing way. Wanting to follow in his footsteps, people started dressing like him. The amount of suicide attempts rose, as people tried to take their own lives thinking it was a romantic thing to do.
  • sardonic wenchsardonic wench Member PExer
    the little prince.
  • asteriskasterisk Member PExer
    davanitayes i write profeesionally, the above article i whipped up hurriedly for two hours for the this magazine called Milk. They originally asked me to write about inspirations behind fictional characters, which I thought too lame. I mulled over that for an hour, trying to concoct new twists, but then gave up and instead made the fictional ten. Can you see some sloppiness due to deadline-beating?

    vijdaqmaybe you can find the charcaters you mentioned from the ranks 11 to 100. Pollard-Gott actually made a Top 100 (number 100 being Morrison's Beloved) fictional characters. You can't cram too many characters in the top ten. After all it only allows ten slots. One has to make decisions, and I agree with her decisions. I try to compare, for example, Huck Finn or Madam Bovary with anyone from the the top ten; I think the top ten characters do exert more power.

    Another thing, while these characters can represent, and powerfully so, the essence of nationality, one of their important qualities is their "universality," that is, they transcend their nationalities. They become the characters of the world, the ones people of any race, creed, etc. can relate to, can emphatize with, can understand, can argue with, etc. etc. More than nationality, it is their humanity.

    Regarding our culture, Bernad has said that ours is still inchoate. That statement was made about three decades ago and we're still inchoate. A hundred years ago, we could be said to be inchoate. Oh yes, he did say "perpetually inchoate." Hmmmm

    I don't agree with you on the notion that great characters can only come out from works written in the vernacular. You're limiting what language, foreign or not, can do. As what I have said about characters transcending nationality, a great character can also trandscend language. And as Gemino Abad said, the English language has not conquered us; we have conquered the English language, making it our own. It is just romantic thinking that a great character can only rise from an indigenous language.

    [This message has been edited by asterisk (edited 07-25-2000).]
  • mintymalonemintymalone The dynamite PExer
    Holden Caulfield is the most influential character for me. He's my man.
  • arKanarKan punk brat PExer
    1. aramis (of the musketeer's fame)
    2. captain ahab (the driven whaler)
    3. sherlock holmes
    4. marlowe's barabas, described as the only one with the "distinction of doing evil with an honest heart..."
    5. machiavelli's ligurio (fiendishly smart)
    6. and scrat, from the upcoming Ice Age flick...he's really funny, to think that a being like that would actually start the Ice Age -- a gas. Particularly like that acorn scene. :turncat:
  • LifeboatmanLifeboatman Member PExer
    Jean Valjean from Vitor Hugo's "Les Miserables"

    Nathaniel Bumppo from any of the Leather-stocking Tales by James Fenimoore Cooper

    Col. Aureliano Buendia from "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez

    Kilgore Trout. a hero from several Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. books.

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