The Book Meme Challenge: Favorite male character
I originally planned to include here the quotation wherein Ransom meets Malacandra and Perelandra, which is to say, the masculine and feminine genders embodied. However, the idea of a rhythmic, qualitative measure with a spear and distance-laden eyes not being particularly useful to my purpose…there is nothing to do but cry “Hark! ONWARD!”
Now. I am somewhat tempted to say (for example) “Aslan” or “The King” (from a book that shall be discussed in later days). However, given their Christological nature, it seems on one hand cheesy to discuss them; on the other, blasphemously reductive. The Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier a mere male character? Pah!
So I leave them aside, and even Ransom and Ender Wiggin with them (though I will acknowledge that Ransom and Ender are themselves more than Christ figures). Who is left on the narrowed field?
You may think it is not narrowed by much. After all, that leaves all the men of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid; the inhabitants of Asgard; the heroes of Beowulf and Maldon; all the knights of the Round Table; men from Dickens, Doyle, Dostoevsky, and Dumas; to say not very much of Austen, Twain, or Shakespeare’s men.
But I confess that a number of these leave me overawed, more character than man by their very greatness – and in not a few cases, it is a greatness that seems somehow remote. Perhaps this is part of their glory, that even today their deeds resound. Still, their outlines fade away into the shadows of my mind, leaving two men on the favored floor:
Lord Peter Wimsey
Given the name of our blog, Wimsey seems a not inappropriate figure to fix upon. Certainly he is a model of gentlemanly behavior, strong and sturdy (though slim), given to laughter (or, well, saying things that make me laugh, anyway), capable; sometimes excitable; not lacking pity or ghosts (even, or especially, when it comes to the criminals he catches); and, not least, generous and loving.
But attempting to sum him up is tiresome and, I’m afraid, misses the mark. It might be better to quote lines from this or that book, or discuss how he behaves in his courtship of Harriet, or to turn the reader to a shelf with some dozen novels on it. I can only say that I love how he speaks, and I fancy it would not be an unpleasant time to sit in some club or other discussing books and drinking some delightful thing with him. Not only that, but Bunter is his personal man, don’t you know!
Alfred might fit in better with the catalogue of heroes; were it not for Chesterton, he would remain as remote and aloof to my thinking as the rest. But Alfred is no fairy tale; his days as our days ran. As portrayed in The Ballad of the White Horse, he is not merely the king who encouraged education or improved the legal system and military. He is a man of action and of hope, though the way before him is unclear. He gathers men to him, not with empty promises but by declaring the uncertainty of his undertaking. He is a wise captain, ready both to pity those brought low by life, and to exhort his men to prepare for battle. He sings the defense of his faith and his God against a bunch of Danes, unarmed. And though he sometimes forgets his duty, or allows sin to spring up, he confesses his sins before going into battle. And so is he a king, and great, who rules not in vain.