I am going to combine these two days, not just because I am behind (even though I am), but because they go so well together.
So, Day 15 is favorite male character and Day 16 is favorite female character.
I have a double double answer here - I will give you (one of) my favorite male & female characters in fiction, and then I will talk about my favorite male & female characters in Harry Potter. There will be a bonus favorites reveal at the end of the post as well, so stay tuned.
Favorite Male Characters:
In spending some time thinking about this, it is clear to me that one of the primary characteristics that I look for in a favorite male character is selflessness. There are two reasons for this: first off, fiction has a lot of jackassdouchebagselfcentereddickhead male characters. The "bad boy" theme of male characters in fiction is utterly endless.
The second reason for this is that I have a major weakness for characters who are great dads. I had a great dad, and my husband is a great dad. It isn't easy to be a great dad, and one of the main requirements of greatdadness is enthusiastically putting your family first.
That is why I have chosen these two male characters as my favorites: Atticus Finch and Arthur Weasley. Both of them aren't just adequate dads, they are great dads. They are unbelievably selfless. They put everyone's needs before their own. They also ooze integrity out of every pore. They buck the prevailing bigotries of their small societies. They stand up for what is right, and by doing that, they are saying to their kids "do as I do and you will be a good person." I love that about both of them. It isn't always easy for them, but they do the right thing, even when the right thing is the hard thing.
Favorite Female Characters:
I also love female characters with integrity and with spirit. Women who are independent, and smart, and who aren't just foils to whatever romantic lead might come along. I have a lot of favorite female characters, including Elizabeth Bennett, Hermione Granger, Cassandra Mortmain, Alanna of Trebond, Jo March, Lady Julia Grey and Sally Lockhart. I didn't, however, choose any of them.
My two favorite female characters (for purposes of today only) are Jane Eyre and Molly Weasley. I love Jane Eyre because she had a sense of self and purpose that is rare in fictional female characters. She is a deliciously subversive character, she has few of the virtues of Victorian womanhood: she is fierce, brave, honorable, not terribly attractive, and not even a little subservient. Critics did not know what to do with her when Jane Eyre was published - she undercuts much of what Victorian society held sacred about the role of women in the community.
As for Molly Weasley, I love her because she is the person in the series that is, I hope, the most like me. Or at least the most like what I would aspire to be. Loving. Generous. Fiercely protective of her family. Selfless. Willing to die to leave a world that is safe for her children. She is not a woman who sits at home waiting for the men to save the world - she is right there, in the thick of the battle, dueling with one of the prime villains of the series (and, just to give a shout out to JK Rowling, Harry Potter in general is an absolute feminist triumph).
Now, the bonus reveal: I want to talk about one of my favorite fictional marriages, which is, of course, the marriage of Arthur and Molly Weasley. It is largely unidealized - Molly's exasperation with her husband and her children is, at times, palpable, but so is her deep and abiding love for her husband. The same is true of Arthur's respect and love for his wife - not because she is a pretty trophy that he likes to show off to his man-friends, but because she is real, and she bore his children, and she is worth loving, even if she is a little bit plump and she looks her age. They are two generous people with endless integrity and love who married and made a lovely family that is not perfect, but is brilliant nonetheless. It's just lovely.