Fatherhood is a challenge. And when it comes to books, some fathers are just plain terrible. This week’s Top 5 Wednesday post focuses on my Favourite Literary Fathers in order to celebrate Father’s Day this coming weekend. While I want to talk about some superb examples of fatherhood in books, it’s equally as fun to talk about the terrible fathers, so I’m going to do a little mix of both.
I admit it was a bit of a challenge to think of my top 5 favourite fathers since it’s so much easier to think of examples of mothers in literature that I love. I wonder why that is? Underrepresentation of the struggle of fatherhood? Who knows. But despite this, I’m pretty pleased with this list as I believe all of these characters deserve to be celebrated for many different reasons and not just for the role they played in their children’s lives (for better or worse).
So without further ado, here are my Top 5 Favourite Literary Fathers!
This post is a part of the Top 5 Wednesday series from the Goodreads group of the same name. Check it out for weekly #T5W post prompts and to see how other book bloggers have answered this week’s theme!
1. Tywin Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
Easily one of my favourite literary villains (played brilliantly by Charles Dance in the television series), Tywin is a great place to start because he isn’t necessarily a good father. At all. Celebrating fatherhood in literature isn’t much fun if we ignore all bad and only focus on the good. Saying he was abusive and cruel to his youngest son Tyrion would be the understatement of the century. And even though he favoured Cersei and Jaime, he wasn’t really that nice to them either. While his main focus was keeping his family both rich and powerful, he fell short in the role of ‘positive father figure’ quite dramatically. Not that he cared much anyways.
2. Sirius Black, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sirius Black (though not a father himself) played a tremendously positive role in the life of his godson Harry. Sirius and Harry’s relationship, while short, not only helped give Harry the feeling of ‘family’ he has been craving but also brought him closer to his biological father through his relationship with his father’s best friend. Sirius had so much to offer Harry in terms of a stable household and a loving family and his death was one of the most devastating moments in the books.
3. The Man, The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I haven’t seen the movie because I only need to have my soul crushed once, thanks. But the father in McCarthy’s The Road was so human and his relationship and emotional connection with his son was beautiful. Not only is living in a post-apocalyptic hell horrendous enough but the thought of something happening to his son gives him the strength to push through the wasteland. Dad of the Year Award material. Seriously, don’t even consider reading this book unless you want to have a lovely feeling of dread for the next few days. Unless you’re into that, of course.
4. Jack Torrence, The Shining by Stephen King
Jack Torrence is one of Stephen King’s most fascinating characters. While Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the character in Kubrick’s 1980 film is second to none, King’s original imagining of the character has a significant amount of depth that the film doesn’t get the chance to explore.
Jack can easily be described as a bad father. He’s abusive to not only his son but his wife as well, even if there is something supernatural happening to influence his actions. But it’s his very real addiction to alcohol that taints Jack’s character and haunts him throughout the novel. Watching someone struggle with the love of their family and their own demons is heartbreaking. Despite the sad (and frightening) nature of Jack’s character, he’s definitely one of my favourite literary fathers.
5. Jean Valjean, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The final character on my list, like Sirius Black, is not actually a father. I’m reading Les Mis right now and while I’m not finished the book, I’ve seen the musical enough times to know how this all goes down. Jean Valjean’s character development in the musical is obviously not as in-depth as the novel and doesn’t quite highlight one of my favourite aspects of the characters life. He’s not only a father figure to Cossette later on in the story but to the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer which saw an economic boom due to his overwhelming influence. His charitable nature and humanity to all that came into contact with him, especially Fantine, gives him a fairy godfather quality despite his many flaws.
So that’s my mixed bag of literary fathers! I’ve love to hear any father characters in books that you’ve grown attached to for either their good or bad qualities. Let me know in the comments! And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. 🙂