Monday, 4 July 2011

Why Freedom Is So Important (To Our Characters)

I guess I'll start with this: Happy Independence Day! For non-US citizens, happy fourth of July, because it's a lovely day and every day deserves to be celebrated, even if it's not particularly special to your nation. :)

I thought I'd take a short moment to focus on independence, and what it can mean - not only for our country - but for our characters. What is it that makes independence and freedom so important? What effects does that have on characters?

Well, as for why it's important, I think that boils down to a basic human need. It's hard to explain, like the want for happiness or the need for love. Characters need it just like we do. Now, this isn't to say many characters wouldn't sacrifice a degree of freedom for wealth, peace, or security, many do. But there are those characters, the ones that hold freedom above and beyond any other earthly quality. How does this independence make them act?

A) Free. Well, yes, obviously. But this can mean rash, as well. Some rules are there for a reason, and a character desperate for independence may not care much what that reason is. Logic can be just as much a hindrance to independence as law, but often for better reasons.

B) Bold. This goes with the above. The character who has personally fought for independence may have a belief that any battle can be won with the right determination, planning, and fortitude. This may get your hero/heroine into trouble, but he/she may also achieve some astounding victories.

C) Afraid. I know this sounds contradictory, but freedom itself can enslave us - to fear. Think of all the protestors you know with signs saying that Muslims with free speech in America will destroy the country. (I'll give you a moment to cool your rage...) I feel this probably comes more often with the second (or third/fourth/etc) generation, people whose forefathers fought for independence.

What do you think? Can you think of any famous characters who have displayed the above qualities in their thirst for independence? Are there traits I missed? Let me know!



Matthew MacNish said...

Ooh, well said, Bethany. I like the way you point out the inherent contradictions here. Any great character should be full of them.

Happy Fourth of July!

Lisa Gail Green said...

What a great post! For some reason I can't help but think of Harry Potter. Voldemort's rule of course represented oppression, and Harry and the others fought for freedom against horrible odds.

L.G.Smith said...

A sense of injustice is a great motivator for characters and an ideal story element for readers to identify with. Really good emotional stuff can come from it for a lot of the reasons you pointed out.

Nice post, and great use of the serial comma. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think my character was bold more than anything. You covered the points well!

The Golden Eagle said...

Freedom is very important to my characters; my current WIP has a lot of its base in freedom.

Great post!

Happy Independence Day!

Lynda R Young said...

Great post. My current WIP explores the theme of freedom vs duty and finding the balance.

Jenna said...

Great post! I like the connection you made with the holiday. When I think of independence in famous characters, *The Hunger Games* comes to mind -- not only for the freedom of the districts, but also how the victors were forced into all sorts of things even after they were supposedly free from the arena, poverty, etc. Anyway, happy Fourth of July!

Talli Roland said...

LOVE that photo - wonderful. Hope you had a good fourth!

Anonymous said...

A picture really DOES say a thousand words. Wonderful post. Hope you had a good 4th!

Sangu said...

All I could think of while reading this was Scarlett O'Hara. She's one of those women who just want to be independent and do exactly what she wants and it makes her behave in all the ways you mention here. Great post! Freedom is such a great conflict point in plots and in characters.

Sarah Allen said...

Beautiful post! I love the image too. Its interesting, the MC I'm working with now, I would actually say he's doubtful he even deserves freedom, or at least happiness. But of course, we all do :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Morgan said...

I was thinking of Harry Potter too, lol (must be because the movie's coming out soon-we've all got harry potter on our minds). Great Post though. I love how you tied it in with independence day.

Hope you had a great 4th (with awesome fireworks)!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Love your post! So like human nature the traits you listed, right? That sounds like the perfect formula for a wonderful character!

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