The Coolest Men in Literature

As I’ve already written a post about my favorite fictional women, here’s one about the men. (Books are probably the main reason behind my impossibly high expectations of men.)

  1. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

He is by far the sexiest man I’ve ever come across in a book. He laughs at Scarlett’s pretentious “feminine wiles” and encourages her to be spontaneous instead.  I love his insolence, charm and his tendency to point out unpleasant truths at the wrong time. What’s not to like?

“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”

  1. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee )

He is courage and integrity personified. If I were to have children in the future, Atticus is exactly the kind of parent I’d want to be. He treats his children as equals (even letting them call him ‘Atticus’), respects their space, handles their mischiefs tactfully and leads by example.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

  1. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (You may have heard of him.)

He is the definition of cool in my dictionary. You’ve got to admire his wisdom, omniscience, quiet confidence and power. I also love his wry sense of humour.

 “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

  1. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

Who can resist the tall, handsome, distinguished, male version of themselves?! I was really annoyed when everyone in the novel mistook his classic symptoms of introversion for arrogance.

 “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

5. Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin)

He is proof that greatness comes in small packages. He may be a dwarf, but he has both brains and Bronn, not to mention kindness, wit and chivalry.

“Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name, take it and  make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.”

6. Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion by Jane Austen)

Ladies, I dare you to to read Persuasion and not swoon (figuratively) at the most beautiful love letter in literature. Even I was floored by it, and that’s really saying something.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. ”

7. Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

That man was the first crush I ever had, at the age of eleven. Though he was pessimistic and wasted his talents, I loved him for his intelligence and constancy. Naturally, I was left heartbroken by the ending of the novel.

“I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you with your father, and of this home made such a home by you, has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”

8. Amit Chatterji (A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth)

He is one of the three suitors that Lata has to choose from, and my personal favourite. I have a thing for clever, sassy writers, and the character is said to be based on Vikram Seth himself. I love the poem he wrote for Lata (‘A Modest Proposal’). Another poem of his is also intense and full of yearning-

The Fever Bird

The fever bird sang out last night.

I could not sleep, try as I might.

My brain was split, my spirit raw.

I looked into the garden, saw

The shadow of the amaltas

Shake slightly on the moonlit grass

Unseen, the bird cried out its grief,

Its lunacy, without relief:

Three notes repeated closer, higher,

Soaring, then sinking down like fire

Only to breathe the night and soar,

As crazed, as desperate, as before.

I shivered in the midnight heat

And smelt the sweat that soaked my sheet.

  1. Howard Roark (The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand)

Like in the case of Darcy, I identify with Roark’s personality, especially his terseness, detachment and individualism.

“I could die for you. But I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, live for you.”

  1. Sherlock Holmes ( books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

I’ve always been a fan of Sherlock’s famous powers of deduction, but I never considered him sexy till I saw Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of him on the BBC show. The actor  somehow manages to be coldly indifferent and ridiculously charming at the same time.

 “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

Honourable mentions- Gandalf, Edward Rochester, Gilbert Blythe, Mr. Tilney, Mr. Knightley, Teddy Laurence and Konstantin Levin.

NOTE- This list is based on the books I’ve read. If you think there are other fictional men I should read about, please let me know.

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My Favourite Fictional Goddesses

“There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.”- Pablo Picasso

Picasso may have been a misogynistic pig, but I love that quote of his! I’m listing some of my favorite goddesses from literature along with the reasons why I like them.

1.Lisbeth Salander  (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson)

Because she is highly intelligent, reserved, loyal to her friends, dangerous to her enemies, meticulous in her work and always considers the consequences before taking any action. Besides, she has a photographic memory, a gift for mathematics (the one subject I totally suck at) and hacking and rides a motorcycle. In short, she’s utterly fabulous.

“Don’t ever fight with Lisbeth Salander. Her attitude towards the rest of the world is that if someone threatens her with a gun, she’ll get a bigger gun.”.

2. Jane Eyre  (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)

Because she refuses to let the cruelty of other people take away her sense of self-worth. She is a hard working, imaginative and independent woman who stays true to herself instead of doing what Rochester and St. John want her to do.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” 

3. Hermione Granger  (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)

Because she taught me that a passion for reading and learning is something to be proud of. She’s a beauty with brains who’s proud of being a Muggle-born and hopes ‘to do some good in the world’! She keeps her wits even when she’s tortured under the Cruciatus curse.

“I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough — I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?” 

4. Elinor Dashwood  (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)

Because she’s a level- headed and sensible woman in a family of overtly sentimental females. She manages to conceal her own heartbreak because she has to be strong for her family. She always remains outwardly cheerful and dignified and keeps her sense of humour. She’s one of my favorite Austen heroines. (And in case you didn’t know, Elsa from ‘Frozen’ is a bad parody of Elinor.)

“She was stronger alone; and her own good sense so well supported her, that her firmness was as unshaken, her appearance of cheerfulness as invariable, as, with regrets so poignant and so fresh, it was possible for them to be.” 

5. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

Because she’s exactly the kind of talkative person I like – unpretentious, imaginative and with a wicked sense of humour. I love this freckle-faced, red-headed girl with her ordinary problems and her extraordinary ‘scope for imagination’!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” 

6. Josephine March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)

Because she’s a clumsy, witty, hot- tempered  and bookish tomboy who firmly resists all attempts by her family members to turn her into a ‘young lady’. And she has a burning ambition to become a great writer.

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.” 

7. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Because she becomes the breadwinner of her family at a young age and saves them from starving to death. She is a real survivor on the arena- brave, resourceful and cunning.

“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.” 

8. Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

Because she’s a charming, manipulative, selfish and determined  bitch. She does whatever it takes to get what she wants and never lets anything stand in her way – fire, starvation, heartbreak, Yankees or even her own sister.

“I’m tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. I’m tired of acting like I don’t eat more than a bird, and walking when I want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could dance for two days and never get tired. I’m tired of saying, ‘How wonderful you are!’ to fool men who haven’t got one-half the sense I’ve got, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t know anything, so men can tell me things and feel important while they’re doing it.” 

9. Sethe  (Beloved by Toni Morrison)

Because this slave woman escapes from her owners so that her children may escape her fate. When the owners track her down, she kills her own daughter to protect her from being sold into slavery and is ostracized by everyone as she struggles to raise her remaining children. How many parents would have the guts to kill their own children to protect them from a fate worse than death?

“For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they brok its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you’d have a little love left over for the next one.” 

10. Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin )

Because she has the qualities needed to be a great queen – she’s strong willed, compassionate, confident and wise enough to learn from her mistakes. I think Westros deserves a great queen after so many rotten kings, but then GRRM has a way of springing nasty surprises. I love the way  she is introduced as “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. ”

Her finest moment was when she freed an army of slaves, the Unsullied, and asked them to join her as free men and free all the slaves in the city.

“You are in difficulty,” she observed. “He will not come,” Kraznys said. “There is a reason. A dragon is no slave.” And Dany swept the lash down as hard as she could across the slaver’s face. Kraznys screamed and staggered back, the blood running red down his cheeks into his perfumed beard. The harpy’s fingers had torn his features half to pieces with one slash, but she did not pause to contemplate the ruin. “Drogon,” she sang out loudly, sweetly, all her fear forgotten. “Dracarys.” The black dragon spread his wings and roared.” 

Honourable mentions- Luna Lovegood, Melanie Wilkes, Dorothea Brooke, Anne Elliot, Elizabeth Bennett, Galadriel and Eowyn.