Merry asked a great question in response to Loretta’s post: what makes a character memorable?
I have a lamentable memory for names and titles, but I can recall great characters all day long. I might not remember his name, but I remember the hero of a romance who appeared to be lazily lying about in a hammock drinking beer and rotting away, when he was actually sharply analyzing his life and what had happened to him and how to correct it. And proceeded to do so, with a great deal of humor. That hero made me laugh and cry.
As I mentioned in my earlier comment, there is Laura Kinsale’s hero from FLOWERS IN THE STORM, who suffers a stroke, transforming his tremendous arrogance and genius to incoherence. He’s reduced to accepting aid from a heroine he would never have noticed in his prior life, and when she helped him get his life back, he didn’t return to his previous arrogance but realized she was more important than all the things he had previously loved. That one seared my heart.
But I think—for me—what makes a character most memorable is the immensity of the flaw he must overcome. The larger the flaw, and the more he/she has to suffer to overcome it, the more I admire them. Think of Rochester’s tremendous pride and how he was brought down and suffered.
So apparently I don’t need righteous things like honor or nobility to enjoy a character—I like flaws. Figures. But beneath the flaws, the character needs a strength and nobility of character to overcome the flaw, so maybe there’s hope for me yet. I just have difficulty buying into perfect heroes. I think perfect heroes need to have suffered to have learned to make the choices that make them noble.