Princes Amongst Men
Authors write in various genres, on varied themes, and on ideas that are close to their hearts. Some go on to have a great impact on all of us through the characters who embody these ideas. There are innumerable characters and stories which have left a mark on us at some time or the other and have been able to garner the interest of a worldwide audience.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet gained popularity not just because of its overall story: The main character, Hamlet, is regarded as one of the greatest fictional personalities and literary creations. "To be, or not to be,” the famous line by the protagonist has been nearly immortalised and is used to depict a dilemma almost universally. The conundrum of Hamlet has made him a favourite topic of
writers and psychologists.
The Odyssey, a major ancient Greek epic poem by Homer, centres on the Greek hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach home. The name ‘Odysseus’ means ‘trouble’ in Greek, referring to both the giving and receiving of trouble. Odysseus' ‘cunning intelligence’ is considered to be heroic. He is often described as the ‘Peer of Zeus in Counsel.’ His use of disguise and misleading speech reflects his intelligence. However, Odysseus possessed the flaw of arrogance or hubris which indirectly resulted in the delays to his homecoming.
Don Quixote, by Miguel De Cervantes, comes third in the most popular list of characters. The much-loved hero of prose fiction, Don Quixote won the fame he sought and influenced novels and novelists ever since he set off on his broken-down horse. The protagonist is Alonso Quixano who lives in La Mancha. He becomes possessed with books of chivalry, and believes their every statement to be true, even though many of the actions in them are obviously not possible. He decides to go out as a knight-errant looking for adventure, donning an old suit of armour, renaming himself Don Quixote de la Mancha, and his skinny horse, ‘Rocinante’, choosing a neighbouring farm girl, Aldonza Lorenzo, as his lady love and renaming her
Dulcinea del Toboso.
Don Quixote is considered the most significant work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and a founding work of modern Western literature.
The hero of the world's first novel, and the greatest fictional influence on Japan for 1,000 years, the versatile Genji showed his greatest gift in the field of romance in Murasaki Shikibu’s ‘The Tale of Genji’. The work narrates the life of a son of a Japanese emperor, known as Hikaru Genji, or ‘Shining Genji’. On political grounds, Genji is demoted to a commoner’s position and given the surname Minamoto. He begins a career as an imperial officer with the tale concentrating on Genji's romantic life and describing the customs of the aristocracy of the time.
Don Juan by Molière is a renowned, fictional free-thinker whose legend has been told by many authors. Among the most famous works about this character are Molière's play Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre and Lord Byron's epic poem Don Juan. Don Juan is a satirical poem in which Byron does a turn around, portraying Juan not as a womaniser but as somebody quite easily seduced by women. A deviation from the epic form, Byron himself described it as an ‘Epic Satire’. Modern critics consider it Byron's masterpiece, with over sixteen thousand individual lines of verse. A very prominent version of Don Juan is Don Giovanni, an opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 'Don Juan' has now become identical with the word ‘womaniser’, and 'Don Juanism 'is occasionally used as a synonym for